The Canadian Football League has slapped the Toronto Argonauts with a tampering fine for their dealings with Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones.
The Argos immediately reacted with a statement, saying they will pay the $5,000 fine.
“The Toronto Argonauts recognize that casual conversations between various individuals frequently take place in professional sports that may unintentionally violate the spirit of a league’s by-laws but are often not subject to fines. The Toronto Argonauts will continue to do business with integrity and while we regret this inadvertent error, we will continue to take actions to field a contending football team in 2012.”
On Thursday, Argos GM Jim Barker denied that the Double Blue have pursued Jones.
“We never asked for permission to speak to Chris Jones because Chris Jones was not available,” Barker said. “That's the facts. We did not go after Chris Jones or pursue Chris Jones. As far as I understand, he went in to talk to coach (John) Hufnagel and ask if he could come with his long time friend to Toronto.
“I believe that's how it happened. From there it was out in the media. Chris Jones was never even brought up in discussions that we had about staffing. That's what happened.”
Hufnagel held a news conference on Wednesday announcing Jones' departure. He said at the time he was not pleased because he felt he should have been forewarned if the Argos had an interest in Jones. The Stamps filed a complaint with the CFL.
It is unclear the nature of the casual conversations mentioned in the Argos statement or who they involved. Jones and Milanovich are long-time friends and were roommates.
The CFL clarified that tampering rules state that a “manager, trainer, player, officer, executive or any other person connected, directly or indirectly, with a member Club is prohibited from directly or indirectly contacting or negotiating with any non-playing person connected with another member Club.”