WOLFVILLE, N.S. - An on-ice incident during a men's varsity hockey game between Acadia and StFX Universities on February 2, 2019, resulted in ten-game suspensions for the Head Coach of Acadia, Darren Burns, and the Head Coach of St. FX, Brad Peddle. Acadia immediately launched an appeal of the suspension of Coach Burns.
An August 15th decision by an Judicial Committee of Atlantic University Sport reduced the suspension for Burns to five games, all of which he served at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Burns will be behind the Acadia bench when it opens the 2019-20 season at the end of September, and in March 2020, in Halifax when Acadia hosts the USPORTS men's hockey national championships. Acadia agrees completely with the Committee's findings with respect to the events that led up to the on-ice incident and the actions responsibilities of individual players and coaches.
"There is no question that the incident that occurred that night was unacceptable and we regret our role in it," says Acadia Executive Director of Athletics, Kevin Dickie. "We've had many candid conversations internally to ensure we learn and emerge from it as a better hockey team and athletic department. We knew from the outset, however, that Darren's role leading up to, and during the incident was completely consistent with what the Appeal Panel concluded. We said we were going to avoid the rhetoric from day one and simply follow the processes afforded to us. We are pleased with the reduction in the suspension. I am happiest for Darren as a person whose character I respect tremendously. This has been a very long and difficult few months for Darren and those closest to him. I'm glad he can turn the page with a positive outcome."
"Words cannot express how much I appreciate the efforts and support of Acadia's administration and athletic department, or the energy expended by them to re-affirm the facts regarding the events that unfolded during the February game," said Burns. "I felt from the outset that to release any statements or respond to questions in the days following the game would have been completely inappropriate as there was so much information that needed to be analyzed. This is why we, as an institution, followed the investigation and appeal process set out by AUS.
"I have been extremely privileged to be part of Atlantic University Sport and Acadia University for the past 30 years as both a player and a coach," continued Burns. "The synergy between community and institution here is unparalleled, and we are aware that our players are very fortunate to have opportunities every day to build relationships that will last a lifetime through community involvement. We are very proud of the families and student athletes that have chosen and continue to choose to come to play hockey at Acadia. In addition to building consistently winning programs, university sport is also about molding and educating young adults and our varsity hockey program alumni leave
Acadia with the character required to be positive role models and leaders. We believe that we continue to bring some of the most well respected student-athletes in the country to Acadia who understand the importance of giving back to their community. It is impossible for us to be perfect but we are dedicated to being the best people we can be. Moving forward, we will continue to learn and educate ourselves as individuals and as a program."
Acadia will not offer any further comment or elaborate on this response. The Appeal Panel's decision and rationale is clear and unequivocal, and speaks for itself.