Former Saskatchewan Roughriders’ CEO Jim Hopson dead at 73

Photo courtesy: Sousa

Jim Hopson has passed away at the age of 73 after a three-year battle with colon cancer.

The Regina native was hired as the first-ever full-time president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2004, a role he held for a decade. The club enjoyed the most prosperous era its history under Hopson, posting record profits and winning two Grey Cups.

Hopson played four seasons along Saskatchewan’s offensive line from 1973 to 1976 prior to embarking on a long career as a teacher and educational administrator.

“As president, Jim ushered in a new era for our organization that included two Grey Cup championships, incredible financial success, and perhaps most importantly, a belief in Roughrider football that will never fade away,” said current team president and CEO Craig Reynolds in a statement.

“But more than that, Jim was an optimist, someone who made you feel better by just being around him and a friend to all who knew him. On behalf of Rider Nation, I want to send our condolences to Brenda, Tyler and Carrie, as well as our thanks for everything Jim brought to our team, and our community.”

The Riders recently named the auditorium at Mosaic Stadium in honour of Hopson. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a builder in 2019.

“As my predecessors on the board of directors began the search for the first full-time president of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club, they were looking for someone who could dream big and harness all the potential that our organization had to offer,” said board chair Dave Pettigrew.

“Jim Hopson took that challenge and exceeded all expectations, setting the standard for Rider pride. Jim’s contributions to the club, to Canadian football and to the community will never be forgotten, nor will the warmth and joy he brought to every conversation. He will be immensely missed.”

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie released the following statement on Wednesday.

Jim liked to tell people he was just a big, old offensive lineman. That sounded like self deprecation to some. But fellow members of the most unique fraternity in sport understood that he was really signalling his pride, in having blocked for the likes of Lancaster and Reed, and the responsibility he felt, to protect his beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders and grow the game.

​The truth is Jim could have left out the part about being big – that was obvious to all of us who were fortunate enough to know him. And it wasn’t just his physical stature. His beaming smile, his loud voice, his crushing handshake – and most of all, his dreams for football in Saskatchewan – were only available in size XXXL.

​As the Riders’ first full-time president and CEO, he played an equally big role in the transformation of the Saskatchewan Roughriders from the little engine that could to a powerhouse of a modern franchise, working with the team’s talented Board of Directors and passionate fan base.

​His many CFL friends are grateful for his contributions, which have earned him a place in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, as we mourn his passing, and send our sympathies to his beloved Brenda, family and friends.