The University of Saskatchewan has fired their longtime men’s volleyball head coach after learning a player on the team pleaded guilty to a sexual assault that happened before he joined Huskie Athletics.
According to Medicine Hat News, Matthew Alan Meyer was charged in January 2016 after a fellow student was sexually assaulted at a house party near the Alberta city’s college.
Meyer was released on bail and voluntarily left Medicine Hat College. In 2017, he was recruited by U of S Huskies men’s volleyball head coach Brian Galvas to join the team for the 2016-17 season. He was ineligible due to academic status that season, but joined the team again for 2017-18.
The Huskies played their final game of the season on Feb. 18. On May 14, Meyer was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation after pleading guilty to the charge.
The U of S said in a statement Thursday Gavlas was terminated, days after he told the Prince Albert Daily Herald he was aware Meyer was facing the charge when recruiting the student.
“I was aware of the charge, yes. I wasn’t aware of what was happening,” the paper quotes Gavlas as saying. “We had talked briefly about the situation. We didn’t go into a lot of detail.”
The now former head coach told the Daily Herald, “from my perspective as a coach and as a father, I thought being involved with our team and our program would be best at this particular stage in his life.”
Gavlas has served as head coach of the program since 1992.
As of publication, he had not responded to 650 CKOM’s request for comment.
According to Medicine Hat News, Meyer pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman who passed out from drinking, and photographed the acts on his phone.
Huskie Athletics Chief Athletic Officer Shawn Burt told 650 CKOM he became aware of Meyer’s conviction on Tuesday.
“I was very upset, very taken aback,” he said. “This has a pretty profound impact on everyone.”
He said the university took immediate steps to investigate, which included “several” conversations with Gavlas about his actions.
Burt wouldn’t divulge what was said in the meetings, but noted the result was Gavlas’ dismissal.
The university said their two-day investigation hasn’t indicated anyone else knew about Meyer’s criminal charge.
Burt added the situation is leading Huskie Athletics to review their recruitment policies.
“It’s surprising and unsettling,” he said.
“It gives us pause and makes us take a step back to really reflect on what we’ve been doing, what we need to do better.”
Asked if current student-athletes would be vetted for criminal charges, Burt said there would be communication with every coach about the severity of the situation.
Dean of Kinesiology Chad London said there are already provisions within the Huskie Athletics code of conduct which would bar an athlete with similar charges to Meyer from representing the university.
“The behaviour that we’ve now all heard and read about is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
“There’s no way someone who’s displayed that kind of behaviour can ever represent Huskie Athletics.”
London confirmed an “expedited” disciplinary process is being put together to review whether Meyer could continue as a student at the U of S, without being a member of the volleyball team. However, he said the university wouldn’t “normally share” the result of a hearing due to privacy concerns.
Meyer’s Huskie athlete profile page has been removed from the volleyball team’s website.