Potential NCAA violations may put No. 1 Bulldogs’ season in jeopardy

UPDATED: 1:13 p.m. CAMBRIDGE — When Chris Cahill ’11 was a last minute scratch for Friday night’s game at Dartmouth, many assumed he had the flu. But Julie Robenhymer, a blogger for hockeybuzz.com, thinks the reasons for his absence could be more complicated and could force the No. 1 men’s hockey team to forfeit all 14 of its wins this season.

Robenhymer stirred up a cloud of online speculation Saturday evening about Cahill’s eligibility when she reported that an anonymous correspondent had written all the coaches and athletic directors of the ECAC to notify them that Cahill may have violated NCAA regulations when he played on a professional hockey team in France last year.

Head coach Keith Allain ’80 and Senior Associate Athletic Director Wayne Dean said they have not seen the anonymous letter and denied the accuracy of the allegations Saturday night.

“If there were any truth to it, do you think he would be in the game tonight?” Allain said after Yale completed a 4–2 win against Harvard in Cambridge, in which Cahill scored a goal.

Cahill took last year off for what he has called personal reasons, but what Robenhymer identified as expulsion from Yale for academic policy violations. He spent the year in France, where he played for Les Phenix of Reims, a club team in the second highest level of the French Hockey Federation, according to the team’s website and collegehockeynews.com. Reims has junior amateur teams but, because of his age, Cahill played on their senior team which pays most of its players, according to Robenhymer.

The left winger, who has nine goals and 18 points so far this season, did not draw a salary while he played for Reims. But playing for free does not guarantee that a player maintains eligibility. According to Robenhymer, NCAA regulations prohibit student athletes from “playing with or against professionals” — a condition she alleges Cahill unquestionably violated.

Rule in the NCAA 2010-2011 Division 1 Manual states that, “An individual shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in a sport if the individual ever competed on a professional team.”

Cahill has declined to respond to questions about his time in France at various points this season. He also declined to comment Saturday night about what steps he took to ensure his time in France would not conflict with NCAA regulations.

The post set Internet rumors swirling about the implications such a violation could have for both Cahill’s collegiate career and the No. 1 Yale hockey team. The consequences, Robenhymer wrote, could range from nothing if the NCAA had made an exception for Cahill — as is allowed in its regulations — to forcing Yale to vacate its wins so far this season. She claimed that officials of the Ivy League discussed Cahill’s situation, but never consulted the ECAC or the NCAA.

Jason Klump of College Hockey News claimed on Twitter Saturday night that he could confirm the existence of the letter from the anonymous correspondent. He also reported that Steve Conn, director of Yale Sports Publicity, denied the existence of an investigation into Cahill’s eligibility.

Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register wrote on Twitter that he had been told reports questioning Cahill’s eligibility were false and that Cahill has been cleared by the NCAA. Malafronte did not name the source of his information.

Cahill, along with his freshman year linemates Mark Arcobello ’10 and Sean Backman ’10 was one of the players who helped lead Yale in Allain’s first seasons with the Bulldogs, including an eight goal freshman season, good for third on the team.


  • RobertC

    Julie Robenhymer might want to check her facts* with the NCAA (but how many journalists really bother to do that lately). According to the NCAA website, regarding another case where a player was ruled ineligible:

    “Although a recent NCAA rule change allows prospective student-athletes to compete on teams with professionals while maintaining their amateur status before college enrollment, the membership maintained the longstanding rule that receipt of money above actual and necessary expenses from a professional team is a violation and defines the individual as a professional under NCAA legislation. That was the case here.”

    So, by my reading, even if Cahill played on a professional team while not enrolled at Yale, and even if he received a stipend, it has to be demonstrated he received pay in excess of actual and necessary expenses.


    *Not that ‘facts’ matter much to the bizarre, arbitrary, and inconstantly applied rules of the NCAA. Take the Ohio State football players who are being punished next season (except they’ll be in the NFL) for this season’s violations, allowing them to compete in a bowl game.

  • The Anti-Yale

    A Shakespearean axiom goes something like this: “As goes the king, so goes the kingdom”.

    Let us not forget that HALF of the country believes that a United States’ presidency was “stolen” ten years ago.

    Even recently retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens questions the Court’s decsion in refusing to allow votes for that election to be recounted: “The Court should have denied the stay. Period.”

    The NCAA is small potatoes.

    Look around. Sniff the air:

    From the annulled-ice at Dartmouth to the privacy-promises at Facebook to the gambling-gyrations on Wall Street, there is something rotten in the State of Denmark.


  • JoeJackson

    Soooooooooo glad PK is back and telling us all kinds of wise stuff.

    But you forgot your auto-biography. Doesn’t this have anything to do with your time at the Div School? Hamden? Come on, man, it’s all about you, tell us about it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Thanks Joe. I was confused. I thought this was facebook.