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Football McGill football star assault charge prompts review of varsity rules

McGill University is set to review the rules and regulations around participation in varsity sports.

CLAUDIO CALLIGARIS

McGill University has announced a review of its rules and regulations around participation in all varsity sports after one of its football players was charged with crimes related to domestic violence.

Luis-Andres Guimont-Mota is facing charges of assault and uttering threats. His 21-year-old wife alleges he pushed her. Mr. Guimont-Mota's lawyer said his client will plead not guilty. The player joined the team even though last year he was serving a 90-day sentence for the 2010 beating of a man outside a bar in Quebec City.

The university has repeatedly dealt with "relevant information" about players inappropriately, McGill's statement said. Its dean of students added that it will be up to the internal inquiry to establish when school officials discovered that Mr. Guimont-Mota had an assault conviction.

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"It will be a rapid process; the review is already under way," said André Costopoulos, McGill's dean of students.

It was the second incident in recent years involving a player with the Redmen. In April, 2012, three players were charged with sexually assaulting a female Concordia University student. The charges became public a year later and university officials at the time said they were not aware of the incident. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for later this fall.

The University of Ottawa suspended its men's hockey program for this season and fired its coach after he did not report an alleged sexual assault by two of the team's players in February, 2014. The two have since been charged.

McGill is not judging the outcome of the case or the Redmen's coaches, Dr. Costopoulos said. Mr. Guimont-Mota has been suspended from the team but no decision has been made on whether he will ever be able to play again. The university's statement said that Mr. Guimont-Mota should not have been invited to join the team.

One of Mr. Guimont-Mota's former coaches pointed out on Thursday that the player arrived at McGill at the same time his former college coach joined McGill's coaching staff.

Patrick Boies was the head coach of the Collège François-Xavier Garneau championship-winning team in the fall of 2011, where Mr. Guimont-Mota was a key part of the squad. Both came to McGill the next season, said Vincent Cauchon.

Mr. Guimont-Mota's lawyer, Steve Hanafi, said the university's actions are "unjust and surprising, to say the least." The running back's previous assault conviction was publicized and the sentence handed out two days after he was admitted to McGill on Jan. 29, 2013.

"The university cannot today plead ignorance about Mr. Guimont-Mota's case when it was in the media at the time," the lawyer said in a statement.

His sentence last year was served on weekends to allow him to play with the football team. A source involved in that arrangement has said the university was not part of that discussion.

McGill football has a troubled history. The team's entire season was suspended a decade ago after the university investigated reports of hazing during the team's initiation activities.

"People judge your reputation not so much on what bad things happen to you, but on how you handle them and I think in that sense we've learned over time," Dr. Costopoulos said.

The importance of sports to the campus has declined over the past decades, but the first game of North American football was played by McGill and Harvard in the 1870s. In 2012, the Redmen qualified for the Vanier Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006.

With a report from Les Perreaux

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