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The Atlantic Football League (AFL) has suspended the Holland College Hurricanes head coach and a player for three games for their actions in the championship game.
With the Hurricanes leading the Dalhousie Tigers 25-9 with 8:32 remaining in third quarter of the Nov. 7 final, head coach Kyle Quinlan was ejected.
It came after a punt return by Dalhousie that ended near the Hurricanes sideline. A flag was thrown and Quinlan went onto the field and was visibly upset.
“He continued to go on the field even when assistant coaches were trying to slow him down, officials were trying to slow him down and even his own players were trying to slow him down,” commissioner Larry Wisniewski said Thursday.
“He was repeatedly resisting efforts to try and defuse the situation.”
Wisniewski attended the game and was in the stands when the incident happened, but is unsure what started the episode. He did say the initially penalty called on the play was against Dalhousie.
The suspensions were finalized about a week ago and Wisniewski said he did not speak to Quinlan during his investigation.
“What head coach Kyle Quinlan had to say was relatively insignificant in terms of the critical components I thought were essential to the decision,” Wisniewski said.
The commissioner coached high school football for more than 20 years and has been involved with the AFL since its inception.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” he said, before adding that was not a factor in his decision for the length of the suspension.
He said typically when someone is ejected from a game the league has suspended them for a game. Wisniewski added a second game because Quinlan was a head coach and a third game because he resisted when others tried to defuse the situation.
Holland College Hurricanes director of operations Michael O’Grady said the team support and accepted the league’s decision and there was no supplementary discipline from the Hurricanes.
Quinlan has taken an offensive co-ordinator’s position with the York Lions of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the league does not enforce the AFL suspensions.
Hurricanes receiver Xavier Gallagher was also handed three games after being ejected later in the game for objectionable conduct. It was Gallagher’s second ejection of the season, leading to a longer suspension, which amounts to half of the regular season.
“We upped the ante,” Wisniewski admitted.
“What we wanted players to begin to understand was that certain kinds of behavior, especially towards officials, is not going to be tolerated and if they continue to repeat those behaviours then there’s going to be repercussions and consequences.”
The commissioner said the league doesn’t want that kind of behavior it in its league.
“If we want a game that sends messages not only about play but about values, then we have to support those values by sanctioning consequences when people don't respect those values,” he said.
Wisniewski said it is important not to overlook the successes the Hurricanes had in 2015.
“Coach Quinlan really did a fabulous job with his team this year. He’s a good coach,” he said.
“Championships are won not only because of competition on the field, but because that competition is supported by strong values about sports and I think Holland College embraces that idea.”