Simon Fraser football season cancelled due to COVID-19

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/Simon Fraser

Players, coaches, and alumni of Simon Fraser University have been wondering whether they would be able to have a NCAA II season this fall due to the restrictions at the border.

They finally have their answer.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference announced on Friday that they would be suspending all intercollegiate athletic competition until at least November 30, killing the football hopes of Canada’s only NCAA school.

“This was not a decision taken lightly but one the Board believes is in the best interests of student-athletes and staff. There is no greater priority than the health and well-being of our student-athletes and this action is reflective of the GNAC’s commitment to this prevailing principle,” Dave Haglund, GNAC commissioner, said.

“We understand that many student-athletes will be disappointed and saddened by this news, particularly our seniors, and we have profound empathy for everyone affected by this decision, including non-conference opponents. We can only ask for their thoughtful understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

The vote by the GNAC conference was unanimous and expected by many. Smaller leagues and conferences across the United States have been cancelling play in recent days as coronavirus cases rise. U Sports athletics has also cancelled interleague play and the Quebec Conference (RSEQ) is the only Canadian university conference that has not yet cancelled its season.

The announcement is a massive blow to SFU student-athletes, including the football team. A significant percentage of the team remains Canadian, despite playing entirely in the U.S. The move will likely hurt some CFL draft prospects, most notably All-GNAC linebacker Griffin Barrett from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

During the off-season fellow GNAC first team all-star from SFU Rysen John was selected in the third round, 21st overall by the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL draft and is currently under contract with the New York Giants. This years crop of seniors hoped to follow his lead.

The GNAC conference has left the door open to play a full season in the spring and will re-evaluate the COVID-19 situation by October 15 to gauge its feasibility.