On Wednesday, Steve Boyd, the current U Sports women’s cross-country coach of the year, was fired for engaging in public commentary about the University of Guelph that his employer, Queen’s University, did not endorse. Boyd is the second U Sports coach to be terminated in the past three months.
According to a report by The Globe and Mail, Boyd, who has coached at Queen’s since 2010, received a verbal warning from the university last week about his conduct and was asked not to comment on the story that broke on February 8 about Megan Brown’s experience with former Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas. He engaged in a Facebook thread with a group of former Guelph athletes on February 10 and was dismissed just over a week later.
In the thread, Boyd suggested that a possible punishment for Scott-Thomas’s alleged actions was to strip the University of Guelph of their many national titles. (The Guelph women’s team had 12 consecutive cross-country national wins.) Reid Coolsaet, a participant in the Facebook discussion and a Guelph alumnus, says, “Steve’s comments were insensitive and the timing was bad. I’m surprised he got fired for that, though.” In Boyd’s Facebook comments he also suggested that it was former Guelph athletes, who helped with recruiting, that could have contributed to the win-at-all costs culture referenced by both the Globe article and some of the university’s past and present runners.
As someone who ran for Guelph, I have to point out there was more to these comments than simply taking away national titles. He compared Dave’s athletes to collaborators in POW camps who actively helped him recruit new runners, among other things. https://t.co/FJ7xgTUBI7
— Samantha Beattie (@Samantha_KB) February 20, 2020
The Queen’s University statement reads, “Mr. Boyd has repeatedly engaged in public commentaries that do not reflect the values expected by representatives of Queen’s University. The university is committed to ensuring a safe and respectful environment for its student athletes, and other members of the broader sporting community, of which Queen’s University is a member.”
Guelph athletes’ statement
Scott-Thomas was fired from his University of Guelph position in December, but he left behind a group of athletes whose cross-country seasons had just finished and whose indoor track seasons were just beginning. Those students released a statement on Thursday morning addressing The Globe and Mail article that was released following their coach’s dismissal.
"Although this season has brought extraordinary challenges, it has also brought our team closer together,"
A Message from our team ⬇️https://t.co/fCxsMPiolO
— Guelph Gryphons T&F (@Gryphontrack) February 20, 2020
The 2019/2020 team captains wrote, “Although this season has brought extraordinary challenges, it has also brought our team closer together. While it is a sad truth that for some teammates, the win-at-all-cost mentality described in the Globe and Mail bore painful resemblance to their experiences of seasons past, it is equally true that such a mentality is not representative of the current team culture or leadership. We are committed to a culture that is intolerant of abusive behaviour and an environment where we support each other athletically, academically and as people. A team culture strengthened by a coaching and IST staff, who not only support our athletic endeavours, but whom we trust completely to hold the well-being of student-athletes as their highest priority.”