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The Globe and Mail

Don Cherry turns down RMC honorary degree

Cherry is shown on February 15, 2011, in Toronto. Cherry has turned down an honorary degree from the Royal Military College of Canada, after at least one faculty member objected. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Darren Calabrese/CP

Hockey commentator Don Cherry has turned down an honorary degree from the Royal Military College of Canada after at least one faculty member objected.

Cherry's decision was made public by the college on Saturday, less than two weeks before the colourful CBC host was to be one of three people to receive the award.

A spokeswoman for the college said Cherry didn't elaborate on the motive for his refusal, simply citing "personal reasons."

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"We are disappointed that he feels he can't attend ... but we also understand his position," the college's principal, Joel Sokolsky, said Saturday.

Cherry, wearing a Royal Canadian Legion suit, was hesitant to speak about the matter on "Hockey Night in Canada."

"I'm not going. It's not fair to the other two guys. It'd be a circus down there," said Cherry.

"The other two guys are great guys, they're getting doctorates and I'm sorry I can't be there. ... I don't want to talk on it. I love the RMC but that's it."

Recent media reports suggested at least one of the college's professors opposed the school's plan to openly support Cherry.

The professor sent an open letter to a Kingston, Ont., newspaper.

It blasted the former hockey player and coach for his controversial views on French-speaking Canadians, immigrants and the gay community.

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The letter said giving Cherry the award sends the wrong message to students.

The letter is "the expression of an opinion," Sokolsky said, adding the school regrets losing a chance to recognize Cherry's outspoken support for Canadian Forces personnel.

"From my standpoint, he was being honoured for his work on behalf of the Forces, his charity work, his standing in promoting athletics in Canada."

Cherry would have received the degree during the college's fall convocation on Nov. 17.

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