Handing out money for the wrong reasons

In Sports4 Comments

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Rob Moysey
Sports Editor

Editor’s note: In the 2006 frosh issue of the Eyeopener, we reported that five women’s basketball players quit the team throughout August. All-star forward and reigning Female Athlete of the Year Amanda Redhead claimed that during a player-coach meeting on July 26, 2006, head coach Sandy Pothier said that because of Redhead’s black heritage, she respects the suggestions of male authority figures more than their female counterparts. Similar allegations were made against Pothier in 2001 and 2003. In 2001, Ryerson Athletics created a formal plan to settle the complaints.

This is incredibly difficult to say, but somebody’s gotta say it: Sandy Pothier didn’t deserve to have a $5,000 bursary named after her.

While it is downright terrible that she has been diagnosed with cancer, she should not be subject to special treatment. Her record should speak for itself — and it isn’t saying many positive things.

Over the years, she has allegedly made racist comments to her players on several different occasions.

And while none of the allegations were ever proven, the fact that so many players had the same problem with her makes for too much of a coincidence.

The supposed goal of Ryerson Sports and Rec is to raise the reputation of its sports teams and enhance the ethnic diversity of its athletes. But naming a $5,000 bursary after an alleged racist certainly doesn’t welcome ethnic diversity, nor does it better the school’s reputation.

It’s one thing to stand behind an employee, but it is quite another to sing her praises.

“I think that way of looking at it is very polarizing,” said athletics director Ivan Joseph. “Remember that they were allegations. If you were in the audience on Friday, you’d see many different types of people — brown, black, old, young, short, tall — that came to support Sandy. I think that speaks strongly as well.”

The mere fact she is associated with such a scandal creates a shroud of negativity around her that Ryerson would do well to distance itself from.

Instead, the university blew the perfect opportunity to cut the cord once and for all.

Ryerson hasn’t addressed the allegations publicly with students, giving the whole situation an undeniable odour. They’ve also gone out of their way to make Pothier all but unreachable.

That’s a grossly unfair way to handle such a sensitive issue.

But putting the allegations aside, what about Sandy Pothier’s record as a coach makes her a worthy candidate for a bursary? You’d think

that a coach of 18 years would be able to muster more than two playoff wins during her tenure.

“You can’t judge her based on her playoff wins,” Joseph said. “Maybe she didn’t have the resources, I don’t know. I’m only looking at her years since I’ve been here.”

That sounds like a lot of excuses for a supposedly spectacular coach. No matter the rationalization, the numbers don’t lie. That is not the kind of mediocrity that should be honoured.

So why was Ryerson so eager to bestow her with this bursary? Perhaps they did it just to save face for keeping such a controversial figure employed for so long. Or perhaps they feel sorry for someone who has been struck by unavoidable tragedy.

But no matter the reason, they are simply handing out money for all the wrong reasons — and students have every right to be angry about that.


  1. As a former player for the Ryerson Women’s basketball team, I am utterly disgusted by this article and find it offensive in every possible way. Today I typed Sandy Pothier into google because I was looking for the obituary that has been posted in the paper and this is one of the first articles that came up. It would be of great benefit for journalism students writing articles to get their facts straight in order to improve the awful reputation that the eyeopener has campus wide.

    I have many strong words I would like to use to describe the utter irresponsibility of Rob Moysey and the Eyeopener for allowing this article to be published. Give your head a shake.

  2. This is a really offensive article. I’ve just come back from Ryerson where hundreds of people including coaches and former players all came to support Sandy’s family and celebrate her life. One former player, a young black woman, lauded Sandy as a coach and friend.

    Me – I went to junior high and high school with Sandy – and racist is the furthest thing from who Sandy was. To write such hostile words when a woman has not yet been memorialized by friends and family who are grieving her loss is cheap at best and evil at worst.

    If you wish to be a journalist some day you might like to look into when the right time to go after a story is…and that will never be in the days following the death of someone people loved.

  3. As a former player of Sandy Pothier; I played in the USA and then returned to Canada to be closer to family due to a tragedy after 2 yrs of playing on a full scholarship. Sandy and her Ryerson asst coaches recruited me after inviting me to practice with the national team. It was the worst experience of my basketball career. She did have racist beliefs and was very prejudiced. I would have made the 6 player to complain, but I quit before the 5 players.

    The sad thing is she was so unaware of her prejudice, that it was shocking. One example is, she told her staff to get more inner city players for the National team… meaning to recruit black players. After playing
    half the season for her, I had to quit the sport I loved and I gave up Div 1 schools to stay in Canada for. It was the worst decision of my life!

    I wrote her a letter regarding how hurtful the experience was and also a letter to the athletic department about her racial insensitivity, leading to me quitting the sport, and she or Ryerson didn’t even respond. It was the most hurtful and regretful decision I ever made to waste my talent there, she was only interested in nurturing the white players and this was very evident.

    Yes may she Rest In Peace, and I wish I didn’t need to share this, but her impact on many players was not a positive one. Ryerson knew this and did nothing about it for years!

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