Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, British Columbia, announced on Tuesday that it would be discontinuing its varsity football program, ending a 53-year tradition. SFU President Joy Johnston stated that the decision was prompted by the Lone Star Conference not inviting the team to continue playing in their conference for the 2024 season, resulting in ongoing uncertainty and an unacceptable experience for students.
“I am saddened to share that we are announcing the end of SFU’s varsity football program. Simon Fraser University is incredibly proud of our long football history, student-athletes, coaches and alumni.Joy Johnson President
This is a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly. With the recent announcement that the team has not been invited to continue in the Lone Star Conference, we do not have a conference to play in beginning in 2024. The ongoing uncertainty creates an unacceptable experience for students. The university has carefully considered all available options and as a leadership team we concluded that football is no longer a feasible sport for SFU.”
SFU is the only Canadian institution to participate in the American-based National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It moved from the Canadian-based U Sports to the NCAA in 2010. In 2021, SFU joined the Lone Star Conference, primarily consisting of Texas-based teams. However, the football team struggled to be competitive, finishing with an overall record of 18 wins and 99 losses.
One of the reasons behind SFU’s move to the NCAA was the ability to offer more scholarships for athletes. The university will honor these commitments for students who choose to remain at SFU and meet eligibility requirements. On average, the university awards scholarships to around 100 students for the football program.
SFU Provost and Vice President Academic Wade Parkhouse explained that having a varsity team playing in an American league has been a draw for students. Despite this, Parkhouse said it’s unlikely the team will ever return to the NCAA. SFU’s Senior Director of Athletics, Theresa Hanson, added that the decision was mainly based on logistics and the inability to meet membership bylaws for alternative college sports associations, including U Sports.
In response to the news, the BC Lions expressed deep sadness and disappointment, vowing to continue supporting amateur football at all levels in the province. CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie also lamented the loss of the program and its longstanding ties to the league.
“THE BC LIONS ARE DEEPLY SADDENED AND DISAPPOINTED TO HEAR THE NEWS ABOUT SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY’S 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 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.”BC Lions
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