January 9, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Eligibility of Yale Player Questioned

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Yale could be coming under NCAA scrutiny because of eligibility questions surrounding forward Chris Cahill. And in a worst-case scenario, Yale would have to forfeit every game it's played this year, except one.

As first reported on hockeybuzz.com and confirmed by College Hockey News, an anonymous letter was recently sent to some ECAC coaches, pointing out Cahill's eligibility issues and urging the coaches to follow up.

Three ECAC coaches confirmed to CHN the existence of the letter, though not all had seen it, and no one knows where it came from.

The issue surrounds Cahill's time last season playing in a French league. The league has some players that are paid, meaning, whether he was paid or not, according to NCAA rules, he becomes ineligible.

Similar to players who play a few games in Major Junior before going to the NCAA, usually the NCAA only requires you to payback any money made, and sit out the same numbers of games you were on the French team for, and then you are eligible again. The problem, according to hockeybuzz.com, is that Yale only checked with Ivy League officials, and not with the NCAA, before playing Cahill this season. Cahill has played every game for Yale this year, except Friday's against Dartmouth.

Academic issues forced Cahill out of Yale after the 2008-09 season. He went to France under the promise that he could return if everything went well.

There is no indication the NCAA has even caught wind of this yet. Yale spokespeople deny there is any NCAA investigation currently going on.

There is recent precedent for the NCAA sanctioning teams for similar situations. Last year, there was the case of an ECAC player who had played for a Swedish junior league team, and while there, two players from a pro league were sent down to that team on a rehab stint for five games. The ECAC player was ultimately forced to sit out one game for every game those players were on the team, even if they didn't play, and even if the ECAC player wasn't getting paid or generally playing against pros.

Apparently, if Yale is concerned about this, it hasn't shown it. By playing Cahill last night, despite this letter already circulating, it would just be one more game Yale would have to forfeit.

Does this mean Yale is not concerned, or does it mean they don't know the situation?

ECAC coaches are not eager to discuss the letter, to varying degrees. No one wants to be associated with it, and for good reason — no one would want to be accused of being the one to stir the pot. The odds of any ECAC coach being responsible for this are next to zero, anyhow. More than likely, every ECAC coach would be supportive of Yale in this situation. Yale is having a tremendous season, and, among other things, it's good for the league to have Yale No. 1 in the country right now with a legitimate Frozen Four shot.

If this comes back to bite Yale, it's their own fault, you can suppose. But it would be an unbelievable shame nevertheless.

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