Will UAAP withhold sanctions?
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 3, 2020 - 12:00am

The UAAP Board of Managing Directors will be convened today to take up alleged IATF violations by the UST men’s basketball team and NU women’s volleyball team. In a statement, the UAAP said it will review the reports of UST and NU concerning the alleged violations and tackle other related cases before taking pertinent actions. The understanding is the Managing Directors will evaluate whether the allegations are fact or fiction then submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees made up of the member school presidents.

Last Tuesday, a body sanctioned by the IATF to draft the health/safety protocols for sports got together to hear out UST and NU on the allegations. UST was represented by two lawyers, not its athletic director, not the concerned coach. The meeting was called to gather facts and nobody had any intention to conduct a quasi-court proceeding. UST’s athletic director recently resigned in the wake of the bubble scandal and his predecessor has been named his successor. Represented in the meeting were PSC, DOH, GAB, CHED, UAAP, NU and UST. NU was represented by coach Otie Camangian.

UST submitted its report to CHED, DOH and UAAP but not to PSC and GAB. Neither the PSC nor GAB insisted to be given a copy of the report. UST reportedly said it wanted to turn in the report “only to law enforcement agencies” and invoked the “data privacy law.” GAB chairman Baham Mitra said his agency attended the meeting only to provide whatever assistance it could give and as a signatory to the Joint Administrative Order on sports approved by the IATF. The meeting turned out to be inconsequential because with UST’s refusal to share its findings with the PSC and GAB, there could be no collective discussion on the issues at hand. The PSC delivered this statement after the meeting: “NU was present and committed to cooperate with any government inquiry on the matter. They also answered clarificatory questions from government agencies present. With regard to UST, the PSC cannot comment at the moment. UST submitted its report only to CHED, DOH and UAAP.”

There is talk that the UST men’s basketball coaching staff received clearance from the “local IATF” to conduct training in Sorsogon. But was the “local IATF” authorized to go against the guidelines of the “national” IATF? If nothing was wrong with what UST did, why are the varsity players leaving the team one by one? C. J. Cansino, Ira Bataller, Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso and Jun Asuncion are all gone. Import Chabi Yo said he’s staying with the varsity but at 24, what options does he have left? Were the players in the Sorsogon camp badly treated as some claimed in their tweets? Was there a form asking for parental or a guardian’s consent to allow the players to go to Sorsogon without the school or team officials being accountable for anything untoward that may happen? Were the players forced to attend the camp at the threat of losing their scholarships and allowances? If these are proved to be true, the violations are beyond IATF guidelines, they attack the heart of the values and principles that the UAAP stands for. The argument that the team practiced in Sorsogon for a non-UAAP purpose is unacceptable. For one thing, it’s a lie. For another thing, it’s a transgression of a national government guideline.

NU said the women’s volleyball team began training in Calamba before the lockdown and was stranded in camp. But is it true that the team left for Calamba last March 14 and some players were allowed to go home while others stayed last April 2? Is it true the team was recalled to continue training in the Manila campus last May 30? Is it true that an NU school employee reported to DOH that the team was training in violation of IATF guidelines and when word got around, players were told to deny it? Is it true that the players shifted their training to a West Avenue, Q.C. gym?

Mitra said if the UAAP won’t sanction the schools for the violations, assuming they’re proved, the IATF will. But should it come to that? First of all, there should be no cover-up. If there were transgressions, the schools must man up and be accountable. What example will the schools give to their students if they resort to evasive tactics and everybody knows who’s responsible? Second, the UAAP must uphold its values and sanction schools for doing wrong, if it’s proved they did wrong. Don’t allow another body like the IATF to do what it’s supposed to do. That’s a cop-out. And third, the UAAP must make sure this doesn’t happen again, that it should spell out clearly what sanctions are to be meted out depending on the violations so they aren’t subject to a vote or a political solution.

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