Star returner-receiver Chris Williams did not report for work with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday and was immediately placed on the team’s suspended list.
"He's got a valid contract and he should be here performing," Kent Austin, the Ticats head coach, GM and director of football operations, told reporters. "If he doesn't want to perform and be here, then he gets suspended without pay."
Williams, who won the CFL’s top special teams player award in 2012, is locked in a dispute with the club over the validity of his player contract, a battle that has gone to arbitration.
Drew Edwards, of the Hamilton Spectator, wrote this week the case circles around whether the team offered the talented offensive star a minimum one-year-plus-option deal in addition to the three-year agreement signed in the fall of 2010. Thus, he was not fully aware of how that would affect his chances to sign a National Football League contract.
Additionally, Williams claims the team should have known it was dealing with an agent who wasn’t certified by the CFL Players’ Association.
A decision by the arbitrator is expected soon.
"I'm disappointed," Austin said. "I understand both sides to some degree but at the end of the day there has not been a ruling and I expect our players to honour their contract.
"In this particular case, that wasn't done."
There has been speculation Williams would sit out this season rather than play in Hamilton, and wait to go south next year.
The 2011 rookie of the year, he scored 16 touchdowns in 2012, piling up 1,117 punt return yards (and five scores) and 1,298 receiving (with 11 majors).