The Simon Fraser Football Alumni Society (SFUFAS) is continuing its fight to get the school’s football team back on the field, putting forward a formal proposal to SFU president Dr. Joy Johnson.
SFU announced the immediate discontinuation of the program last month but has since been met with pushback from members of the football community, celebrity alumni, and members of the municipal, provincial, and federal government.
The B.C. Supreme Court is in the process of hearing arguments after five players filed a lawsuit against the university, seeking a legal injunction to restore the 2023 season. However, the SFUFAS remains hopeful a resolution can be reached without judicial intervention based on their newest proposal.
“The SFUFAS believes that dialogue and consultation can put SFU Football back on the field in 2023 before the BC Supreme Court decides on an injunction to re-establish football operations.
On the recommendation of Hon. Selina Robinson, the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the SFUFAS delivered a proposal to SFU President Dr. Joy Johnson last week asking to engage on the football program’s future. The proposal called for the following:
- Immediately begin a football-only application process, in good faith, with Canada West and U SPORTS. These applications will include Football Canada in the administrative and lobbying strategy.
- Immediately begin a football-only application process, in good faith, with the NAIA. This application will include the SFUFAS in the administrative and lobbying strategy.
- Immediately reinstate the varsity football program as before the announcement of SFU on April 4, 2023.
- Implement the recently submitted budget as of December 2022.
- Maintain scholarship amounts for Football Student athletes in at least the amount referred to in the SFU Athletic Director’s affidavit on April 20, 2023.
- Immediately rehire coaches and associated support staff for the football program at previous compensation levels.
- The SFU Athletic Department, the SFUFAS and Football Canada immediately begin working together to develop and confirm a 2023 football schedule.
- Suppose the above-noted applications are rejected on or before December 31, 2023. In that case, the SFUFAS, with SFU’s agreement, will consult with SFU and all stakeholders to assist Simon Fraser University in determining the future of the SFU football program.
We believe the following facts support this proposal:
- SFU maintains that its decision regarding the football program was not about funding. With the proposed budget for 2023, in addition to additional funds raised, the operating budget should not be an issue.
- SFU should have a minimum of 82 and a maximum of 97 players ready to compete and represent the school in 2023. This is more than enough players for an independent season.
- An independent schedule of at least eight games is available for SFU to play this fall. It is a compelling calendar as it features teams across Canada and the western US.
- Canadian and US-based alternative partners have emerged as being willing to be constructively engaged in a football-only solution to provide a place to play in 2024 and beyond.
- With the timing of the announcement on April 4, student-athletes are experiencing significant stress with complicated credit transfers between institutions and limited scholarship funding available after recruiting season. Returning to the field in 2023 is the best path for student-athletes to satisfy the objectives of an athletic scholarship with minimal impact on studies and athletic development.
The SFUFAS looks forward to engaging the president in a constructive dialogue focused on solutions for our current student-athletes and promoting SFU Football, a foundational program as old and storied as the university it represents.”
Following public outcry, Simon Fraser appointed a special advisor on April 20 to examine the future sustainability of football at the institution. However, officials remain adamant that they will not field a team in the fall of 2023.
University officials cited the team’s lack of conference affiliation in 2024 as the reason for its dissolution, but did not submit a formal application for inclusion into U Sports due to what athletic director Theresa Hanson dubbed “an incredibly complex process.” Alumni believe there is an appetite for the school to be granted single-sport membership in the Canada West conference if they went down that path.
B.C. Lions owner Amar Doman is among those willing to financially back a restored football program. The team recently raised over $700,000 in pledge donations, which will be collected if the program is reinstated.