Simon Fraser University recently announced that they will have a special advisor review future football opportunities for SFU following the program’s abrupt cancellation on April 4.
In the announcement the university made it very clear that it will not be looking to play football this fall.
“We reiterate that:
- All parties agree there is no path forward for SFU to play varsity football in the NCAA.
- We will not be playing varsity football in the fall of this year.” SFU’s statement read.
They are bringing in a special advisor to review future football opportunities while already closing the door for the upcoming season. They already had a place to play football for 2023 in the Lone Star Conference before choosing to cancel the program. Another possibility would be to approach USports to continue the football program in Canada. SFU did not submit an application to USports despite insisting they explored all options. USports does not yet have its schedule set for 2023.
There has been much pushback to the football program’s cancellation from the SFU Football Alumni Society and many voices from everywhere within the Canadian Football universe. Even if the advisor were to say that the best path forward for SFU football is to play in 2023, the door appears firmly closed on that by the current administration.
To state that all parties agree there is no path forward for SFU to play varsity football in the NCAA is very premature. They have a place to play for this year so there is a path right now if not a sustainable one. The administration could look into options beyond that during the 2023 season.
I did reach out to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and they confirmed that SFU did reach out to them about future football scheduling opportunities and that they had informed SFU that they did not have plans to expand football-only membership at this time.
“The university is supporting football athletes who want to explore varsity football options. For those who want to stay at SFU, we are ensuring their scholarships continue throughout their academic journey and providing any additional support needed.
Since our announcement, we have heard suggestions about establishing non-varsity football or seeking an exemption with other Canadian varsity football programs. We also have heard from individuals that support the decision to end the football program.” Simon Fraser University’s Statement continued.
One pattern that has been repeated by the school is to reiterate that they will honor existing scholarships. It has been frequently mentioned that players may go elsewhere to continue their careers in football, thus freeing Simon Fraser University from the scholarship commitment.
It is interesting that there is mention here that canceling the football program suddenly has been supported. I have been following the story closely and have not seen people supporting this decision myself.
“Open dialogue is needed to fully consider and explore future options for football at SFU. To that end, President Joy Johnson has directed that SFU appoint a Special Advisor to review and make recommendations regarding potential sustainable opportunities for football. The Special Advisor will report to the Provost and will meet with students, student-athletes, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader football community to hear perspectives and gather information. We are committed to an open and transparent process. A final decision will be made by the university. This process will take time for all to be heard and for options to be weighed. We will report back by the end of the calendar year.
This has been an active conversation, and our focus is on students and student-athletes.
If you would like to share a perspective on this issue, please email email@example.com.” The statement concluded.
To recap, they are reviewing to look at future football opportunities but they are not playing this season. They had a place to play this season. If they truly want an opportunity to have the program play they would play this season.
They say they will report back at the end of the calendar year, which of course is after the 2023 football season. It is my own opinion that this review is a farce to relieve the public’s disapproval of the way in which the program was abruptly canceled.
Players of the team have voiced their thoughts multiple times that the University is often not acting in the best interest of the players or genuine in much of what they say regarding supporting them such as below.
The longer the program is in a canceled state the more likely we are to begin to see players transfer to other programs. It will be a significantly larger task to build a football program from scratch than it would be to continue an already established one. Based on that it will be easier for a review to justify reiterating on behalf of the university that there is no path forward for football.
At least one player has already committed elsewhere.
Five of the current players have filed a lawsuit against the university for discontinuing the football program due to a breach of contract with their agreement to play football for the school. If the program is to resume hopefully it is sooner rather than later as multiple players have been sharing publicly that they have been receiving offers to play for other programs.
As stated in my previous article, Athletic Director Theresa Hansen did not apply to USports as it would be “very complex”. Now they have a review period to assess future football opportunities that they state will take longer than the entirety of the 2023 football season.
Please note that any written and or perceived criticisms are my own opinion.
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