SFU decides to scrap its varsity football program

Apr 4 2023, 7:31 pm

Simon Fraser University has a proud football history, but it will no longer have a team to call its own.

The Burnaby-based school announced the decision to scrap its varsity football program today, following a decision by the Lone Star Conference Council of Presidents to not renew their affiliate agreement with SFU.

“Given Simon Fraser University’s long and proud football history, this is a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly,” said SFU President Joy Johnson. “I want to thank all the student-athletes and coaches, past and present, for being part of that history. However, the football landscape has changed significantly in recent years and we no longer believe we are providing an exceptional experience for student-athletes.”

Unlike other major Canadian universities, including UBC, SFU competes against American competition in the NCAA. It hasn’t gone well for SFU in recent years, with the football team going nearly four years without a win between 2014 and 2018.

Last year, SFU was forced to play home games south of the border due to unvaccinated American players that weren’t permitted into Canada. SFU won just once in 10 games last season.

“With the recent announcement that the team will not be invited to continue with Lone Star, we don’t have a conference to play in for 2024,” said Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem Wade Parkhouse. “The ongoing uncertainty creates an unacceptable experience for students. As a leadership team, we concluded that football is no longer a feasible sport for SFU.”

The BC Lions have released a statement, saying the team is “deeply saddened and disappointed to hear the news” about the end of SFU’s varsity football program.

“Today’s news impacts several dedicated individuals, in particular the student- athletes, coaches, staff, countless volunteers, parents and, of course, alumni, who tirelessly dedicated themselves to the SFU program,” the Lions said in a statement.

“The long and rich history included a very proud chapter that highlights its bond with our team and league. Lui Passaglia, Rick Klassen, Nick Hebeler, Glen Jackson, Sean Millington, and Angus Reid are just a few of the greats who came through SFU, building a tradition that continues today with current Lions Michael Couture and Jordan Herdman-Reed. The BC Lions will continue to do everything we can to support amateur football at all levels in this province.”

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