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Former player takes Quebec junior league to court over education bursary

SYDNEY, N.S. - A former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player is taking the league to court, claiming it is refusing to pay him bursary money for his education.

Brett Morrison, 22, of Howie Centre, N.S., is asking for $3,500 for every year of post-secondary education he completes, up to a maximum of $15,000, plus damages and costs.

A notice of claim also states that Morrison is asking to be paid $7,000 of that $15,000 total immediately for the two years he's completed at St. Francis Xavier University.

Morrison played for three QMJHL teams over four seasons. He now plays for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.

"I just feel that I should get some part of my money from the Q," said Morrison, adding the court action is his last resort after trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to get education money from the league.

"I ended up not getting anything. We figured we should give it at least a try."

The claim will be heard Sept. 28 in an Antigonish, N.S., court.

Before it was amended in August 2009, the QMJHL's education policy stated a former player was eligible for bursaries totalling $16,000 for a four-year degree if he met three requirements outlined in a June 3, 2009, letter sent to Morrison by commissioner Gilles Courteau.

The requirements stated that a player must not refuse to play in the league as a 19-year-old, he must return to full-time studies no later than one year after the end of his junior career, and he must "seriously attend" school for at least four academic sessions during his junior career.

At the time, Courteau said Morrison didn't fulfil the third requirement but Morrison insisted it was impossible to meet the requirement because he was bounced around the league so much.

He played for the Gatineau Olympiques in 2004-05, 2005-06 and part of 2006-07, the P.E.I. Rocket for portions of 2006-07 and 2007-08, and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for part of 2007-08.

Morrison's lawyer, Kyle MacIsaac, said Tuesday his client wasn't even made aware of the third requirement when he signed a contract with Gatineau on Aug. 29, 2004, during a pre-season training camp.

"There was no opportunity for him to seek out any independent legal advice or to discuss it with his folks," MacIsaac said. "Essentially, our main argument is Brett was not afforded the information from the league ... that would enable him to adhere to the requirements of the policy."

MacIsaac said Morrison contemplated playing NCAA hockey but ended up going to the QMJHL largely because of the education grants offered by the league.

The QMJHL provided a total of $402,750 in education grants in the 2009-10 academic year. Individuals received between $1,000 and $4,000.

QMJHL spokesman Karl Jahnke declined comment Tuesday.

"At this point, we’re going to let the courts decide it," he said.

(Cape Breton Post)

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