UPEI men’s soccer team loses points and fined for two games Behan played
© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Mark Behan will be able to wear the UPEI Panthers colours this soccer season. He was granted permission by the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Wednesday.
Mark Behan will get to play soccer this season after all.
The Ireland native is studying at UPEI this fall through an academic exchange with the Dublin Institute of Technology. He played two regular season games for the men’s soccer Panthers before the university realized new rules made him ineligible.
The mid-fielder learned Wednesday the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) had granted him permission to play the rest of the season on compassionate grounds.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said Thursday. “It’s a sense of relief that . . . I (can) get back playing on the pitch.”
The rule change makes any player coming to the CIS from a league outside North America, who is over the age of 20, sit out their first year of eligibility. It previously was only for players who suited up in professional leagues.
Behan said he played for a local amateur club team in Ireland’s second division.
“There’s no professional play, nobody gets paid,” he said.
Panthers coach Lewis Page is pleased with the CIS’s decision.
“He’s a great kid. It’s important for him to be able to study and continue to play soccer,” he said. “He’s a great team leader and is a good role model for all our players.”
The CIS did take away the two wins the Panthers earned with Behan in the lineup and fined UPEI $3,000.
Ron Annear, the university’s athletic director, said the player would have been punished for the institution’s mistake had he not been allowed to play.
“We never interpreted well enough to be concerned that we weren’t in compliance,” he said of the rule change. “It wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t eligible.”
Behan and Page had initial conversations in February about the possibility of him playing in Charlottetown while the rule change was implemented in June.
The Panthers are now 5-2-1 and are in a three-way tie for first place with Saint Mary’s and Acadia. They return to action Friday, Oct. 12 at Mount Allison and Saturday, Oct. 13 at Dalhousie.
“I can’t wait,” Behan said.
“Sitting out the last three weeks wasn’t easy. They’ve been doing well without me . . . it’s just been tough sitting on the sidelines.”