Special advisor releases findings on future of football at Simon Fraser University

Photo courtesy: Garrett James/SFU

Special advisor Bob Copeland released his findings on the future of football at Simon Fraser University. The full report can be read here.

In the extensive report, Copeland, the senior vice-president of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, confirms that Simon Fraser has no option to play football in the NCAA or the United States and that returning to play in Canada in U Sports would require a significant investment from the school with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

“On behalf of the entire SFU community, I would like to thank Mr. Copeland for the depth and thoroughness of his work, including his extensive engagement with student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as football alumni and industry experts,” says SFU President Joy Johnson.

“I recognize that the findings of this report may not be what the football community had hoped for, but Mr. Copeland has made clear that our starting point now must be setting the right foundation for Athletics and Recreation.”

“Our dedication and support for SFU student-athletes remains our priority,” says Rummana Khan Hemani, SFU Vice-Provost, Students and International. “The report is based on more than 240 interviews that shed light on areas that require a deeper look. As we work through these findings with our student-athletes, coaches and staff, we will keep the community updated. We are committed to creating a stronger Athletics and Recreation program for our students and the SFU community.”

The university appointed Copeland as an independent special advisor back in April after the school faced considerable backlash when they abruptly eliminated the football program earlier that month. The school claimed the decision was made primarily due to the Lone Star Conference’s (LSC) choice not to renew SFU’s membership beyond the 2023 season, leaving them without a home for 2024.

A number of key alumni also protested SFU’s decision by leaving the school’s Sports Hall of Fame, including Lui Passaglia, Sean Millington, Glen Jackson, Terry Bailey, Doug Brown, Dave Cutler, Wayne Holm, Rick House, Neil McKinlay, Rob McLaren, and Orville Lee.

B.C. Lions’ owner Amar Doman partnered with the SFU Football Alumni Society (SFUFAS) to hold a pledge drive in April, which raised over $700,000 for the program. The collection of the funds was contingent upon the program being formally reinstated.

SFU has committed to honouring the scholarships of football players through graduation and indicated that they are provided student-athletes with health and well-being support along with one-on-one meetings. They are also supporting those who are transferring to other programs.