Friday, June 12, 2009
Tillman Will Continue Working For Riders
((HT: Regina Leader-Post/McCormick))
The Saskatchewan Roughriders aren’t going to change their game plan now that the sexual assault charge against general manager Eric Tillman ((pictured, thanks CP))has been set for a January 4 trial.
Jim Hopson, the Riders’ CEO and president, said the same structure in regards to football operations will remain in place as was before a trial date in Regina Provincial Court was set Friday for Tillman.
Tillman is on paid administrative leave and will continue to serve as a consultant. Tillman earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge. Two weeks have been set aside to hear the charge in January but it could be settled earlier.
“Clearly we would be happier if our general manager was here and able to do his regular duties," said Hopson. “That’s not the case and we’ve made changes to make it work for us. So far, we are very confident of where we need to be at this point.’’
Riders head coach Ken Miller will remain in charge of football operations. Joe Womack, the Riders’ director of player personnel, will also assist Miller in those duties. Womack as also helping coach the secondary at the Riders’ training camp.
Tillman will assist in the day-to-day operations. He hasn’t attended the Riders’ main training camp but does view videos of each practice at his Regina home.
“(Tillman’s) expertise is phenomenal and we want to use that,’’ said Hopson.
Hopson said the team doesn’t have any plans filling the GM position on an interim basis while Tillman is on leave.
“We had said that but that would be predicted on how it’s effected the team and how it’s performing,’’ Hopson said. “I’m very happy with the roster and the coaching staff. We’ll continue to monitor it but we’re not anticipating a change right now.’’
Miller declined comment on the Tillman issue. He deferred to Hopson as the team’s representative. Hopson has been in regular contact with Tillman, who was introduced as the Riders’ general manager August 23, 2006.
“He wants to see this resolved as well,’’ said Hopson. “It’s very hard on him and his family. He continues to be focused on the team and any advice he gives is the best he can. He still wants the team to do well and be a tremendous asset.’’
Hopson said that the Tillman situation has had an effect on the perception of the Roughriders. That hasn’t emerged in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships. The Riders have sold 23,000 season-tickets and have already sold out the Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“One of the things we’ve seen from our fan base is a tremendous level of understanding and certain acceptance that this is a personal issue not a football issue,’’ said Hopson. “It’s outside the club and the club is doing what it should be doing, which is stepping back and allowing the thing to be resolved properly and we aren’t rushing to judgment. Clearly with the support we’ve received from season-ticket sales, sponsorships and to the number of people at training camp . . . The fans are like players, they are worried about the next football game.’’
Here's Hopson at the press conference, thanks to the Leader-Post