Elks fire president, GM, coach after missing playoffs

Edmonton Elks Head coach Jaime Elizondo speaks on the end of the season in Edmonton, Alta., on Sunday November 21, 2021. (Jason Franson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks have cleaned house after a disappointing CFL season, with president and chief executive officer Chris Presson, general manager Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo paying the price.

The Elks announced in a release Monday that the team’s board of directors has terminated the contracts of Presson, Sunderland and Elizondo effective immediately following a season that saw the Elks post a 3-11 record and go winless at Commonwealth Stadium.

Chair Ian Murray said the board decided major changes are needed at the senior leadership level to “rebuild the trust and confidence of Elks fans, season seat holders and the community.”

“The past 18 months have been an exceptionally challenging time for our organization, but none more so than for its fans, season seat holders and the community,” Murray said in the release. “The club will be actively engaging with fans, season seat holders and key stakeholders to learn from their experiences to help with a quick rebuild on and off the field for the 2022 season.”

The Elks said a search is underway for permanent replacements of the CEO and general manager positions. Allan Watt, the team’s executive director of marketing, has been named interim chief operating officer in the meantime.

“We are determined to give this community the competitive team long-time loyal fans have been accustomed to throughout this proud franchise’s history,” Watt said in the release. “We are equally committed to winning over new fans by supporting our community and developing a fun and engaging game experience that appeals to the broad demographic of our great city.”

In addition to piling up losses, the Elks had to deal with a significant COVID-19 outbreak with 14 players testing positive. At the end of the team’s 10-day isolation period, offensive lineman Jacob Ruby was cut for misrepresenting his vaccination status.

The fans weren’t impressed, and let the team know. According to attendance figures published by the league, the Elks averaged 26,210 fans per game for the lowest attendance since the franchise moved into Commonwealth Stadium in 1978.

Sunderland had been GM of the Elks since 2017, while Presson had held his positions since 2019.

Elizondo had just finished his first season as head coach.


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