CFL blocks Thorpe’s resignation as Alouettes DC

Alouettes defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe (Ian Barrett/CP)

MONTREAL — Noel Thorpe’s reported resignation as defensive co-ordinator of the Montreal Alouettes was declared invalid Thursday by the Canadian Football League.

A statement from commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said Thorpe, who was also assistant head coach, cannot get out of his contract to join another club without written approval from the Alouettes. Thorpe was expected to accept the same job titles with Edmonton.

It also said that the Eskimos "did not violate the existing CFL by-laws and will not be subject to any discipline in this matter."

Orridge placed a moratorium on the movement of coaches between teams on Wednesday after reports that Thorpe decided to leave the Alouettes to join the Eskimos, despite having two years left on his contract. It prohibits coaches under contract signing with another club without his written approval.

The league statement said Orridge made "a thorough and complete investigation of the facts surrounding the Noel Thorpe matter and has determined that Thorpe’s purported resignation from his contract with the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday December 15, 2015 in order to secure a coaching position with the Edmonton Eskimos was invalid based on the terms of his contract with Montreal and the existing by-laws of the CFL.

"Thorpe is currently still under contract to Montreal and is not free to resign from his existing contract to accept employment from Edmonton, or any other CFL Club, unless written permission is received from Montreal in advance and subject to the current protocol of advance approval from the League office."

Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said he expects Thorpe to fulfil the last two years of his contract. If not, he won’t be able to work in the CFL.

"He’s under contract for three years and we expect him to fulfil that," said Popp. "If he wants to work in the CFL he has a contract."

Popp said that even though Thorpe asked to leave, and players may resent a coach who wanted out, once Thorpe is back all would have the common goal of wanting to win.

Thorpe made a statement to TSN on Wednesday saying he had met with Alouettes president Mark Weightman and came away feeling they had agreed to part ways. He added that he had quit the Alouettes before the league moratorium was announced.

Popp said he was surprised by Thorpe’s request to resign and did not know if he will stay on.

"I can’t speak for him," he said.

Popp added that he still has a good relationship with Thorpe.

"There’s no hard feelings," he said.

A rash of coaching moves in recent weeks has raised debate over tampering and demands for compensation and left the impression the league was in chaos.

Chris Jones, coach of the Grey Cup champion Eskimos, jumped to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and took nearly his entire staff with him. Edmonton did not ask for compensation from the Riders.

But when Ottawa offensive co-ordinator Jason Maas resigned to become head coach in Edmonton, the Redblacks demanded compensation. Orridge sent the matter to mediation.