Community The University of Guelph Responds to Athlete’s Open Letter

    The University of Guelph Responds to Athlete’s Open Letter


    This morning, iRun published an open letter from alumni of the University of Guelph Track & Field team. In response, the University of Guelph shared this letter with our publication.

    The University of Guelph is committed to continual improvement and positive change. We have progressively taken steps in the Department of Athletics to ensure our student athletes have positive and supportive experiences. 

    A detailed listing of improvements in the Department of Athletics in the past two years is included below.  

    The University recognized the need to further review policies, practices and the environment in the Department of Athletics following the following the 2019 firing of track and field coach Dave Scott-Thomas. McLaren Global Sport Solutions was hired to conduct a thorough review, and a public report was released in Jan. 2021. The University also released the recommendations of the University’s Sexual Violence Task Force and announced the creation of a new Sexual Violence Steering Committee. 

    These initiatives will help us chart a path forward. In addition to making our policies and processes clear and effective, we want to foster a University culture that supports safety, openness, transparency and accountability around the issue of sexual violence 

    Already, we have made many improvements, including new policies and supports and coaching codes of conduct. But much work remains. We are committed to doing more, and to doing better. 

    We continue to listen and learn, to offer apologies to those who endured suffering and hardship, and to remain vigilant in our commitment to make our campus a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.  

    U of G Department of Athletics Progressive/New Initiatives since Jan. 2020  

    Student-Athlete Handbook Additions 

    • Safe Disclosure Policy and resource
    • Additional content in Student Athlete Code of Conduct re: Hazing 
    • Coaches Code of Conduct
    • Rule of 2 information (no one-on-one meetings between coaches/athletes; at least one other person must be present). 


    • Hired four new women coaches to the Track and Field Program 
    • Rule of Two Policy 
    • Revised and updated part-time and volunteer coaches’ agreements including club coach agreements (approved by Human Resources). 
    • Comprehensive review and update of Coaches Handbook  
    • Coach education on Sexual Violence and Mental Health 
    • Comprehensive Education and Training and future Onboarding program  

    Athletic Therapy and Medical Updates and Changes 

    • Updated concussion policy and procedures to align with Rowan’s Law for Intercollegiate, Intramurals and Clubs
    • Drafted updated medical policies (previously identified as part of internal review)
    • Rule of 2 for student-trainers
    • Must travel in pairs of the same gender if travelling with a team of the different gender
    • Door open policy for treatment (if no other staff or patients present))
    • Concussion working group (initiated by Dr. Margot Mountjoy)
    • Integrated Support Team (IST) communication policy – identifies team leads who connect pertinent members of the student athlete’s care team

    Mandatory education and trainings (coaches, student-athletes, club executives, operations staff, full-time staff) 

    • Intercollegiate Program Orientation for student-athletes and coaches, attended virtually by more than 700 people.
    • Sexual Violence Education On-line Module
    • Sexual Violence In-Person Training from Sexual Violence Support & Education Coordinator
    • Principles of Belonging Module On-Line training
    • Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Training with Office of Human Rights & Diversity
    • Launched an Inclusivity Statement; embedded into above mentioned training (fall 2019)

    Student Athlete Mentorship Training 

    • Orientation training has been expanded to include Student Support Network training basics (delayed due to COVID)  
    • Counselling Services presented orientation for Student Athlete Mentorship (SAM) mentors on how to support student athletes if issues arise in conversation. 

    Nutrition education 

    • Student athlete Orientation and corresponding materials supporting healthy eating  
    • Eating disorder planning group formed with Campus Experts/Leads 

    Mental health and wellness 

    • Coach education session delivered by our campus Mental Health Coordinators 
    • Increased collaboration and meetings with our Mental Health Coordinators 
    • Created a more efficient process for coaches and student-athletes to seek help in distress 
    • More Feet On The Ground training for student staff and Beyond the Books for student Lead staff and Supervisors 

    Sexual Violence  

    • Updated procedures for referral of Sexual Violence cases, allegations, reports, concerns etc. directly to the Sexual Violence Support and Education Coordinator 
    • Mandatory Student education training  

    Track & Field, Specific Changes 

    • Increased team’s Assistant Coach budget with priority to add female coaches and staff 
    • Female Strength and Conditioning and Jumps coach hired 
    • Female Strength and Conditioning and throws coach hired 
    • Additional support (Winter 2020) added to medical team as full-time Athletic Therapy from the department 

    Department Administration 

    • Windows added to office and meeting room doors for safety 
    • Initiated an inventory and review of existing policies and procedures with the goal to standardize formats; house centrally; eliminate redundancies; identify gaps; ensure broad awareness and compliance of Department and University policies.
    • Completed review of existing ‘Shared Use Agreements’ to ensure consistency and mitigate risk and liability.