CFLPA lobbies Simon Fraser president Dr. Joy Johnson to save school’s football program

Photo courtesy: CFLPA

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association is the latest entity to throw its support behind efforts to resurrect the Simon Fraser University football program.

In a letter sent to president Dr. Joy Johnson, the CFLPA lobbies for the school not to let its 58-year-old football program cease operations.

Dear President Johnson:

I write to you as the Executive Director of the CFL Players’ Association, representing over 600 professional football players, to express our deep disappointment at your recent announcement cancelling the SFU football program. Over 58 years since its inception, the SFU program has produced many highly skilled players who played professional football in both the CFL and NFL and are Hall of Fame members.

It is beyond devastating that the program ended so abruptly without any outreach or calls for support. You, in effect, have ended not just the program but the careers of aspiring athletes to the professional ranks. These young players have no time now to produce film or have other schools consider them for their football programs. Worse, you allowed spring practices to occur, knowing you had already decided to cancel the program. I am told during those practices; players also suffered severe injuries.

There is a huge, untapped groundswell of public support not to have the SFU football program cancelled. The CFLPA is happy to work with you to establish a coalition to find a new conference for the SFU Red Leafs, to salvage the season, and get athletes back on the field where they can develop their potential and aspire to the professional ranks. You owe your students that much.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Brian Ramsay

The PA is just the latest in a long line of people supporting the revival of the B.C. football institution. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently sent his own letter to the leaders of U Sports hoping that they would provide an exception to existing rules that would allow SFU to play as a single sport member.

U Sports bylaws do not allow its members to belong to more than one conference and SFU has no desire to move its other athletic programs from NCAA Division II. Athletic director Theresa Hanson confirmed to 3DownNation that the school did not make a formal application to U Sports prior to cancelling the program due to an “incredibly complex” process, deeming an “unprecedented” exemption to be unlikely.

Simon Fraser University announced the immediate discontinuation of its football team Tuesday, April 4, bringing an end to a program that had existed since 1965.

The school claimed the decision was made primarily due to the Lone Star Conference’s choice not to renew SFU’s membership beyond the 2023 season, leaving them without a home for 2024. SFU joined the LSC this past year following a stint with the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference from 2010 to 2021.

Canadian football leaders have pushed back on that narrative in the days since, as alumni mount a furious attempt to save the program. Several meetings with key decision-makers across all levels of football have taken place, with the group planning to file a legal injunction to salvage the 2023 season.