SPORTS

Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey returns to ice in 2016-17 after suspension

06/03/2015 01:58 EDT | Updated 06/03/2016 05:59 EDT
The University of Ottawa men's hockey team will return to the ice for the 2016-17 season after a 15-month suspension due to sexual assault allegations, the school announced.

The program will recruit a coach and players over the next year to prepare for the team's return, according to a news release.

The men's varsity hockey program at the University of Ottawa was first suspended in March 2014 after a woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by multiple players during a trip to Thunder Bay, Ont.

Two men, David Foucher and Guillaume Donovan, were charged in August 2014 with sexual assault connected to the incident. They are scheduled to return to Thunder Bay court on July 14.

The team has not returned to the ice since the suspension, which pushed many former players to launch a class-action lawsuit against the university.

Head coach search begins Thursday

The hockey program officially re-launches by starting a search for a new head coach on Thursday.

The Gee-Gees' former head coach, Réal Paiement, was fired after the Thunder Bay incident after he was partially blamed for the program's lack of response.

"The university is seeking a dynamic coach with proven leadership skills and a comprehensive knowledge of Canadian interuniversity hockey," the news release said.

"The successful candidate must also have a demonstrated ability to convey values consistent with the university's mission and the Gee-Gees' sports programs."

The recruitment of student-athletes will start after the new head coach is in place, the school said.

The school also said there are new measures in place to improve the culture of the men's hockey program, as well as other sports programs.

They include behavioural guidelines; mandatory participation in orientation sessions that cover hazing, harassment, anti-doping, alcohol use and behaviour; an ethics and discipline committee that reports incidents of misconduct; and a plan to implement recommendations from the Task Force on Respect and Equity, launched by president Allan Rock after the suspension of the hockey team.

Some of the task force's recommendations involve harassment and sexual violence training for student-athletes and coaching staff.

"We are confident these measures will foster a positive environment for our student-athletes and coaching staff," said Marc Schryburt, uOttawa's director of sports services.

Ottawa Senators President and CEO Cyril Leeder, business leaders and hockey alumnus Jean Lépine will also help the program's return to the ice with long-term financial stability, the school announced.

MORE:cbcSports