Monday, January 10, 2011

Yale: Cahill is eligible

An Internet report questioning the eligibility of a senior forward on the Yale men’s hockey team raised concerns about whether the top-ranked Bulldogs might be in hot water with the NCAA.

The website “” alleged Chris Cahill played on a team with professionals last winter in France, which would make him ineligible for NCAA competition and result in Yale possibly forfeiting all games in which he participated. Cahill, currently the team’s fifth-leading scorer with nine goals and nine assists, was not enrolled at Yale last year.

Yale issued a statement on Monday refuting the report.

“Yale University Athletics Director Tom Beckett confirms that every standard pertaining to the collegiate eligibility of Chris Cahill has been met to the satisfaction of the Yale and Ivy League compliance staffs. Chris Cahill remains eligible to compete in all Yale hockey games.”

Academic issues forced Cahill to take a year off from Yale following his junior season in 2008-09. Intending to return this year and play hockey for the Bulldogs, he played in 18 games for Reims, a club team in the French Hockey Federation.

Beckett told the Register that Yale coach Keith Allain worked with the Ivy League and Yale’s NCAA compliance officers to ensure Cahill would retain his college eligibility.

Some players received living expenses necessary for participation on the team, which is permitted in NCAA bylaws. But Yale has written verification from team officials that no players drew a salary. To be classified as an professional team, per NCAA rules, a team must compensate players beyond those necessary expenses.

“It was approved prior to Chris being involved with the team, it wasn't after the fact,” Beckett said. “Chris’s family was very concerned about doing what was right. This is a process that took months.”

Beckett said he has no concerns that the NCAA will launch an investigation.

“The burden of proof, every standard, all of those issues have been met; the Ivy office signed off on it at the very beginning,” Beckett said.

Concerns over Cahill’s eligibility began was an anonymous letter, which was recently issued to coaches and athletic directors around the ECAC Hockey league urging those administrators to look into the Cahill matter. According to sources, an Ivy League school made a formal inquiry Friday. Yale held Cahill out of the lineup for its game at Dartmouth to allow the matter to be resolved.

The situation was cleared Saturday, and Cahill was back in the lineup that night at Harvard. He scored a goal in the Bulldogs victory.

That's the story I wrote for the Register. Now, a few additional notes and some opinion (that's what blogs are for!)...a few readers have emailed me wondering if the fact that Yale went through the Ivy League for clearance, but not the NCAA, a case made in the original Hockeybuzz report, is cause for concern. Based on the folks I spoke with today, it wasn't required for Yale to go through the NCAA since Cahill was still an eligible player when he was making plans to play in France. The French league and the French team checked out with Yale's compliance officers as well as the Ivy League, and the league signed off on it.

It should be noted that NCAA tennis and basketball players play in events/leagues with pro players in the offseason, while hockey players can attend NHL mini-camps under certain guidelines. Of course, Yale's case is different because it maintains the French league Cahill played in was not a professional league. Sources also told me the league is government-funded, which means paying players a salary (beyond the stipend for living expenses) is akin to fraud. People will go to jail for double-dipping like that. Players receive money, but that money is paid for housing, meals, etc. and is permitted by the NCAA.


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