Board wants additional information
Darrell Davis, Leader-Post
Friday, November 18, 2005
The Saskatchewan Roughriders' 10-member board of directors meets again Saturday to decide whether general manager Roy Shivers, who has held the position for six years and is evidently refusing to make any personnel changes, should be retained to restore the team's on- and off-field prestige.
"We obviously want the vision,'' Roughriders chairman Graham Barker said Thursday.
"We want to see where this ship is going, recognizing that (Shivers and head coach Danny Barrett) steer the ship and we provide the support. Roy made a very good, detailed and thoughtful presentation to the board meeting. We just need some more information now and we can get on with our job.''
Barker was optimistic a consensus would be reached before the weekend, but after Shivers' presentation at Wednesday's meeting -- which was relayed to several directors via speaker-phones -- it was determined a quorom wasn't present. So the directors agreed to reconvene Saturday, after requesting Shivers provide more information.
The directors are apparently interested in Shivers' plans to improve a team that has made four straight playoff appearances, but posted its second straight 9-9 record and hasn't had a home playoff game under his stewardship. Their season ended Sunday in the East Division semifinal with a 30-14 loss to the Montreal Alouettes.
Shivers has been unwavering in his support for Barrett, six assistant coaches and quarterbacks Marcus Crandell and Nealon Greene.
That support could be a contentious issue as supporters of the community-owned team are expecting changes that will make it into a Grey Cup contender. The directors would likely demand improvements that would entice the ticket-buying public. If this develops into a game of chicken, it would likely cost the community-owned Roughriders $400,000 to buy out the contracts of Shivers and Barrett, who each have one year remaining in their pacts. Shivers and Barrett also have an option year in their respective contracts, subject to the club's discretion.
"We're all sensitive to the uncertainty that our coaching staff is feeling,'' Barker said.
"I'm very concerned about that. If we're in position to push a little harder and work a little longer in order to get a decision, in fairness to everybody that's what we should do.''
There's extra urgency because of a CFL-mandated moratorium on team announcements during Grey Cup week, which starts Monday. And the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are seeking a head coach, are interested in interviewing Roughriders offensive co-ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille and defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall. Blue Bombers general manager Brendan Taman would also apparently be interested in Barrett, despite disagreements they have had in the past.
"If Saskatchewan cleans house, that would result in a lot of things going on,'' Taman told the Winnipeg Free Press.
"It opens up a ton of stuff, because right now we're the only team with a head coaching job available. It's going to be very interesting to see how all this plays out.''
The directors are also hoping to implement a code of conduct to insure reputable off-field behaviour by the team's players and staff.
In recent years several players have been arrested and one coach was dispatched for off-field incidents, culminating with linebacker Trevis Smith being charged Oct. 28 for aggravated sexual assualt. Shivers described those as "societal problems more than football problems.'' Shivers declined an interview request Thursday.
"If that is the decision (to retain them) there has to a reaffirmation because there are . . . issues with respect to a code of conduct and things like that in terms of this sacred brand called the Riders,'' Barker said.
"We are committed to putting in place a formal agenda as it relates to that. We're also looking to provide more opportunities for our players in the offseason, emulating the kinds of positive strategies for our players to make them want to come here.''