Kent Austin Banned from Sidelines for One Game, Fined

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The CFL today brought down its judgement on Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin. Austin will be forced to pay a $10,000 fine, and will be barred from the sidelines for their October 1 clash with the league-leading Calgary Stampeders.

Austin made contact with the official apparently accidentally, but it was in the midst of a furious gesture of contempt at a procedure call which he – and many others – felt was unwarranted. At the time, the lineman he touched threw a flag, and the team was assessed a 10-yard penalty for objectionable conduct. Many wondered at the time why Austin were not simply ejected from the game. Here’s the incident in question:

Today, the league apparently second-guessed the on-field decision, and indeed threw Austin out. From their statement:

Respect for officials is a basic tenet of sport. Their impartial participation makes fair competition possible. And their security is paramount. That is why it is absolutely unacceptable for a coach to confront an official and make contact with him, even if that contact was inadvertent and accidental.

For his behaviour in a sideline incident with an on field official during his team’s game on Saturday, September 24th, Hamilton Tiger-Cat Vice-President of Football Operations and Head Coach Kent Austin will be removed from the sidelines for the Tiger-Cats’ next game, this Saturday, October 1st. He will be allowed in the spotters’ booth but he will not have the privilege of joining his team on the field or interacting with officials on the field. Furthermore, Coach Austin is fined $10,000. A penalty of this magnitude levied against a coach for an interaction with an official is unprecedented in our league.

The Tiger-Cats responded with a predictable response:

As a result of his unintentional and accidental contact with an official during last week’s game in Saskatchewan, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were informed on Wednesday that Head Coach Kent Austin will be removed from the sidelines for Saturday’s game against the Calgary Stampeders. Although we feel the punishment is unprecedented and harsh, we accept the league’s ruling on the matter and move forward as we continue to prepare for this weekend’s game at Tim Hortons Field.

The Ticats were already at a disadvantage on October 1, facing the nigh-unstoppable Calgary Stampeders with an injury-riddled offence. But in the meantime, the argument continues.

Did Austin get off lightly? A slap on the wrist for a tap on the wrist? Have your say in the comments.

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