Pay­ing the price for grab­bing an of­fi­cial

The CFL fines and sus­pends Tiger-Cats rookie Will Hill

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - DREW ED­WARDS

Kent Austin says Will Hill is sorry.

The Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions and head coach stood up for his player on Tues­day af­ter CFL com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie sus­pended the de­fen­sive back one game for grab­bing an of­fi­cial dur­ing last Satur­day’s loss in Regina.

“Will’s been a great team­mate. Will made a mis­take,” Austin said. “There’s no ex­cuse for that level of be­hav­iour. When you’re in the wrong, it’s im­por­tant that you demon­strate ma­tu­rity in the form of hu­mil­ity and con­tri­tion. That demon­strates that you get it and that you know have the chance to change any be­hav­iour that needs to be changed.”

Hill wasn’t at prac­tice on Tues­day and was un­avail­able to me­dia due to what the team said was a fam­ily mat­ter un­re­lated to the sus­pen­sion.

The sus­pen­sion is ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, mean­ing Hill will miss Hamil­ton’s home opener Satur­day against the B.C. Lions un­less he de­cides to ap­peal. If Hill chooses to do so, he’d be able to con­tinue play­ing un­less the rul­ing was up­held by an in­de­pen­dent ar­bi­tra­tor.

Austin said he didn’t know if Hill planned to ap­peal and CFL Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives were un­avail­able for com­ment. Am­brosie also fined Hill an un­spec­i­fied amount for punch­ing a Saskatchewan player on the same play.

The rul­ing was is­sued quickly and Austin said he ap­pre­ci­ated how Am­brosie, who played nine years in the CFL, han­dled his first ma­jor test.

“I have great re­spect for the new com­mis­sioner and the fact that he’s played the game,” Austin said. “We re­spect the league’s de­ci­sion.”

Reaction across the league was de­cid­edly mixed, how­ever, with many feel­ing that Hill got off light. But Am­brosie may have been con­cerned that a harsher pun­ish­ment would have been struck down by an ar­bi­tra­tor af­ter for­mer com­mis­sioner Jef­fery Or­ridge failed to sus­pend Austin for mak­ing con­tact with an of­fi­cial dur­ing a game in Regina last Septem­ber.

In­stead, Or­ridge fined Austin $10,000 and ban­ished him to the spot­ter’s booth for one game.

In a state­ment is­sued Tues­day, Am­brosie said he’s com­mit­ted to devel­op­ing a pol­icy that would set stan­dards to pro­tect of­fi­cials and out­line pun­ish­ments for in­frac­tions. Austin, who is a mem­ber of the league’s rules com­mit­tee, said that would elim­i­nate some of the guess­work that plagues the cur­rent sys­tem.

“We can do a bet­ter job at bring­ing more de­fin­i­tive process and con­struct around cer­tain vi­o­la­tions as op­posed to it al­ways be­ing an am­bigu­ous ap­pli­ca­tion of a penalty that doesn’t have any es­tab­lished prece­dent — be­cause the prece­dents have been all over the place — that can be vet­ted by the op­er­a­tors of the league,” Austin said. “Bring­ing more form and de­fin­i­tive penalty to very black-and-white is­sues would be very ben­e­fi­cial to the league.”

Will Hill

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