GM fired, directors resign, Canadian Professional Rodeo Association in turmoil

Cody Cassidy, shown here competing at the 2014 CFR, was one of the CPRA directors to resign in protest of Dan Eddy's dismissal as the association's GM on Wednesday. BRUCE EDWARDS / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Published on: July 27, 2016 | Last Updated: July 27, 2016 8:35 PM MDT

Cody Cassidy, shown here competing at the 2014 CFR, was one of the CPRA directors to resign in protest of Dan Eddy's dismissal as the association's GM on Wednesday. BRUCE EDWARDS / EDMONTON JOURNAL

 

There has been a massive shakeup of the dysfunctional Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.

President Murry Milan resigned on July 17, the final day of the Calgary Stampede. Nine days later, the other cowboy boot dropped.

General manager Dan Eddy, hired in February 2015, was fired Tuesday night at a meeting of CPRA directors in Airdrie. The vote was reportedly 6-5 in favour of Eddy’s termination, which came despite a recommendation from the CPRA’s eight-member business advisory council to retain him. Eddy had earlier this year been suspended with pay pending an outside human resources investigation of allegations made against him by some CPRA office staff. He had since been reinstated.

“Advice was given to the CPRA directors by the business advisory council (but) they went out on their own,” said council member Pascal Del Guercio, a Calgary-based commercial real estate developer. “Dan Eddy, who was suspended, was exonerated, was found totally innocent of all allegations. But the CPRA chose, in their wisdom, to let him go.

“And with that being done, the business advisory council completely stepped down, as we had known he was a perfect man for the job. The negotiating team for the CFR has also resigned and stepped down. It was made up of some of the members of the business advisory council.”

Del Guercio said he would not reveal the names of the other members of the business advisory council, as they are “some very prominent people and I don’t think it’s fair to bring their names into it.” He said the resignations of all eight council members were tied directly to the board vote and also to the “dysfunction in the organization.”

It is hard to imagine that the CPRA would have spun out of control had they reached a deal to keep the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, because that failure created division on the board. Instead, the 2016 event is the final one here.

The stampede out the door didn’t stop there, however.

Del Guercio said directors Cody Cassidy, Denton Edge, Kyle Thomson, Stacy Cornet and Travis Gallais resigned in protest of Eddy’s dismissal. He also said director Jonathan Kmita chaired the meeting and has stepped in to lead the organization in the absence of a president and general manager.

Kmita did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, while Milan said by email that he could not comment. Requests for comment from the CPRA’s communications and marketing director Katy Lucas, as well as Eddy, Cassidy, Thomson and Gallais, were rejected or ignored.

Del Guercio said he was speaking to the Edmonton Journal as a private citizen with knowledge of what transpired at the meeting, not as a spokesperson for the CPRA.

“This is not a fun thing to be part of for a lot of people. There’s a lot of people that make a livelihood out of this association and with what’s going on, and the dysfunction in the organization, I felt it fair to give you the facts because there are some people that are, Dan Eddy for example, has been very hurt by all that’s happened.

“I don’t want you to put the wrong things in the paper because at some point we’d like to put a stop to our involvement with the association and from that point on you’d have to get anything from (the CPRA) because we simply have stepped back and don’t want to be responsible for any interactions.”

It is hard to imagine that the CPRA would have spun out of control had they reached a deal to keep the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, because that failure created division on the board. Instead, the 2016 event is the final one here. The CPRA’s negotiating committee rejected the final bid from the Oilers Entertainment Group on March 1. The OEG and City of Edmonton had worked in concert on a long-term deal with the cowboys, but CPRA wanted more purse money over the length of the deal and didn’t want to cede control of TV production or sponsorship generation to OEG. So the deal died.

A faction of CPRA directors opposed the rejection of that Edmonton bid and were upset with how the negotiations went down. One director said the CPRA executive leadership didn’t allow him to view the particulars of the OEG proposal until May, two months after it was rejected.

But at the time of the rejection in March, that faction was outnumbered by directors, executives and advisory council members who supported the idea of putting the CFR on the open market. Those people had decided the CFR was such an attractive property that several other Canadian cities would line up to bid for hosting rights.

That didn’t happen.

There wasn’t a single formal response to the CPRA request for proposals. Only Saskatoon indicated some interest in continuing to negotiate with the CPRA. Earlier this month, the CPRA and Saskatoon Tourism signed a memorandum of understanding to hold the CFR in that city from 2017 through 2019.

But Del Guercio said there is no straight line to be drawn from the CFR negotiations to the termination of Eddy and the resulting slew of resignations.

“All I can tell you, the deal with Saskatoon had nothing to do with it.”

dbarnes@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jrnlbarnes