January 10, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Yale Confident in Cahill's Eligibility

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Yale today denied reports that there were continuing issues with forward Chris Cahill's eligibility, issues that could have cost Yale some games.

"Yale University Athletics Director Tom Beckett confirms that every standard pertaining to the collegiate eligibility of Chris Cahill has been met to the satisfaction of the Yale and Ivy League compliance staffs," the school said in a statement today. "Chris Cahill remains eligible to compete in all Yale hockey games."

The issue first came to light over the weekend, when a blog site said an anonymous letter was circulating among ECAC coaches, encouraging them to push the issue of Cahill's eligibility. CHN later confirmed the existence of the letter with three league coaches.

Chris Cahill sat out of Friday's game, but played Saturday. Yale addressed the reports by saying that Cahill's been cleared through all of the proper channels.

I believe at this point it's a non-issue. Here is what I believe happened, based on conversations with a variety of people. Some of this is speculative, as noted.

* Cahill left Yale because of academic issues, and found a place to play in France. Cahill checked to make sure that playing would not disqualify him from returning to Yale this season.

* Yale had discussions with Ivy League officials prior to the start of this season to ensure Cahill met eligibility requirements. Both parties were satisfied that he did, and Cahill was cleared to play.

* Someone — no one we spoke to has any idea who — sent an anonymous letter to ECAC coaches urging them to look into Cahill's eligibility. Why would someone do this? Was someone trying to be a legitimate whisteblower? Or was someone — like another school's booster, for example (purely speculative) — just trying to stir trouble for the league's first-place team?

* The letter, once Yale caught wind of it, prompted the school to re-check with the Ivy League about Cahill's eligibility. At this point, however, no concrete evidence had been presented to the Ivy League that would contradict their pre-season findings.

* Yale was spooked enough, or prompted by some new nugget of information, to sit out Cahill on Friday because of the "flu."

* Yale was sufficiently satisfied by its diligence to play Cahill again Saturday.

So that's it. At this point, everything has been checked and re-checked. Unless this anonymous letter writer, or someone else, came forward with new information, then the matter is closed. If there is other information, such as evidence that Cahill's French team did include paid players, or something similar, then the Ivy League and/or ECAC would be compelled to present that information to the NCAA, and/or Yale would have to impose sanctions upon itself. Or Yale could always ask for an appeal and/or waiver.

All of that, however, is not close to happening at this point.

The question then turns to — who wrote this letter? If this is just someone — maybe someone who was mis-informed themselves or got somewhat overzealous — trying to stir the pot, then we can forget the whole thing. But if this was an ECAC coach, it would be interesting to note who it is.

I wrote yesterday that no ECAC coach would do such a thing. Yale — or any team that is playing with a legitimate Frozen Four chance — is good for the ECAC. Why would anyone want to tear down that chance? The ECAC doesn't get many opportunities at Frozen Fours. It's good for the league as a whole to have that kind of team out there. It would be silly for an ECAC coach to attempt to play "gotcha" with Yale, just so it could improve its own league standing by one place. The ECAC isn't a humongous power conference that has five teams with a crack at the FF every year. If Denver tears down Minnesota, for example (just an example), the league as a whole is not hurt. The ECAC, however, would be hurt by Yale being denied an opportunity to see where this season goes.

I like to still think that's true, though I've been reminded that things can get a bit more heated and cutthroat in Ivy League circles than I'd like to believe. If any coach did have a hand in it, it would be deplorable, especially if the insinuations are baseless. So for now I'll continue to believe it wasn't anyone inside the league.

Consequently, again, for now, it's much ado about nothing.

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