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Students left 'high and dry' by cancellation of SFU football: Port Coquitlam mayor

At least 10 former Terry Fox students are devastated by the cancellation of SFU's football program, says Brad West, who wrote a letter to SFU's president asking for a reconsideration or a temporary reprieve.

Another voice has been added to the outcry against SFU cutting its football program.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is calling on the Burnaby university to reconsider cancelling the program — or to let it continue temporarily — after hearing from as many as 10 players who were formerly high school players on the Terry Fox Ravens football team.

"For many of the Port Coquitlam student–athletes at SFU, the results of this decision are devastating," writes West in a letter to Dr. Joy Johnson, SFU president and vice chancellor.

"Had they known the university would be abruptly ending its varsity football program, they would have almost certainly chosen to attend a different post-secondary institution."

West goes on to say that the timing of the decision was just prior to exams, adding "insult to injury" and causing a "great deal of distress."

West wrote that he considered SFU to be the community's natural home post-secondary institution; however, the decision to cancel SFU football "certainly tarnishes that reputation." 

In his letter, the mayor asks the university to reconsider cancelling its program to to temporarily continue it so the students can play until they can transition elsewhere.

Injunction filed

The letter comes as players file an injunction to reinstate the program.

Among other reliefs, they're seeking interim, interlocutory and permanent injunctions requiring the school to reinstate the football program for at least the 2023 season.

The filing alleges the school broke a contract with the players by scrapping the football program permanently. 

"It was a term of this contract that if SFU would not be able to provide a varsity football program for the Plaintiff Players to play, SFU would give reasonable notice to the Plaintiff Players," the claim states. 

"SFU did not inform the Plaintiff Players that there was any risk, possibility, or likelihood that SFU would terminate its football program, without reasonable notice, thereby leaving them without the opportunity to play college football at SFU, or at all." 

Explored all options

In an interview with the Tri-City News' sister paper Burnaby Now, SFU athletic director Theresa Hanson said the school explored "all avenues" to keep the program going.

She said there were no other Division II opportunities to play NCAA and the university didn't meet the qualifications of the U SPORTS bylaws.

— with files from Jess Balzer, Burnaby Now