The disbanding of Simon Fraser University’s football team shocked players, staff, fans, and the school’s Alma Mater. The decision jeopardizes the careers of young athletes and could damage the football ecosystem in Canada.
The program that remained in place since 1965 closed its doors, citing a lack of conference as the death blow for the 58-year-old program.
SFU President Joy Johnson stated this “The team has not been invited to continue in the Lone Star Conference, we do not have a conference to play in, at the beginning of 2024,”
Since its inception, SFU’s football team has played in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) in 2002, SFU began a stint with U Sports before joining GNAC (Great Northwest Athletic Conference) In 2021 SFU joined the LSC.
Now claiming the Lone Star Conference has not renewed its membership with the school, SFU Athletics decided to disband the program all together.
“The university has carefully considered all available options as a leadership team, and we concluded that football is no longer a feasible sport for SFU,” Johnson wrote.
SFU will honour player scholarships for the 2023-24 school year.
Dropping the football program has been difficult for many, leading to public outcry to salvage the season.
SFU Alma Mater and TSN Broadcaster Farhan Lalji voiced his displeasure with the decision mentioning “The fact that SFU Athletics is doing this is a completely heartless decision. They have a place to play this fall & by ending the program in April, they’re putting the players in the worst possible position to continue their playing careers,”
Joy Johnson claimed ending the season in April would provide athletes with enough time to “make other plans for their athletic careers,” a sentiment Lalji disagrees with.
What SFU’s football team has given to the ecosystem of football in Canada can’t be understated, as 217 SFU alumni were drafted into the CFL & 143 would play in the league.
SFU Alumni Inducted in Canadian Football Hall of Fame
Lui Passaglia 2004 – Punter, BC Lions
Dave Cutler 1998 – Kicker, Edmonton Eskimos
Dan Ferrone 2013 – Offensive Linesman, Toronto Argonauts, Calgary Stampeders
Doug Brown 2016 – Defensive Linesman, Stampeders, Buffalo Bills, Washington Commanders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
BC Lions Owner Amar Doman stated they are working to save the season, “We want to continue the tradition of SFU football, we’ve brought back the Shrum Bowl, we’ve done a whole bunch of things to try and engage the lower mainland and continue the great football programs,”
The Shrum Bowl is a university rivalry game between SFU and UBC in which SFU leads with a 17-16-1 record.
Doman also urged fans to stay vocal and show their support “Please make some noise, be visible, be noticeable of what you’re doing, and we’ll keep the message going,”