HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia judge has ruled that the Atlantic university football championship game will be played on Tuesday, giving Saint Mary’s University a chance to take on the Acadia Axemen in the Loney Bowl.
Saint Mary’s football players and fans shook hands in the Halifax courtroom after the decision was handed down on Sunday evening.
"(We’re) extremely excited to have the opportunity to play," Huskies coach James Colzie said outside the courtroom. "We’ve been ready for the past for 48 hours."
The teams were scheduled to face off on Saturday, but the Saint Mary’s Huskies were sidelined after the eligibility of one of the Halifax university’s players came under scrutiny.
Days before the matchup, the governing body for university athletics in the region, Atlantic University Sport, decided to cancel the game over the eligibility issue and awarded the title to Acadia.
Saint Mary’s went to court and lawyers for the parties spent the weekend arguing the matter before Nova Scotia Supreme Court associate justice Deborah Smith.
The players said they were eager to get back on the field on Tuesday in the game that will determine which Atlantic contender will take on Western at the Uteck Bowl next Saturday.
AUS executive director Phil Currie told reporters that the organization will respect the ruling, but said the organization stands by its decision to call off the game, and will continue to pursue the matter in court.
Acadia lawyer John Keith declined to comment on the decision, but during arguments, he repeatedly described the matter as a "mess."
In handing down her decision, Smith said she was inclined to agree with Keith’s assessment.
"Football is a game. Some would suggest it is only a game. For a talented few, however, it can become a profession," Smith told the court. "I hope that my ruling in this matter is clear. I want this game to take place by this Tuesday."
Smith did not elaborate on the legal reasoning behind her decision, citing the case’s breakneck pace.
She said the game will take place on Acadia’s campus in Wolfville, N.S., as planned, provided that the school is willing and able to do so. If not, Saint Mary’s will host the game.
At the centre of the complex legal battle, which spans two provinces, is Huskies wide receiver Archelaus Jack’s eligibility to compete in a university football league due to allegations that he violated a league rule.
According to documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court, the national body governing Canadian university sports requires players who have been listed on a CFL team’s practice roster after Aug. 15 to wait one year before they can join a university football team.
Jack was released from the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders practice squad in October, according to the documents.