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Alumni association confident in the future of SFU football

“We believe we are on a constructive path to finding a conference to play in 2024 and beyond.”
Shrum Bowl XXXIV (34) between Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia on Dec. 2, 2022. | Jennifer Gauthier for Burnaby NOW.

The Simon Fraser University (SFU) Alumni Society is confident the Burnaby school's football program has a future, despite a recent injunction being denied.

President Mark Bailey said, after having a productive meeting with SFU president Joy Johnson Wednesday night (May 9), the society is satisfied it can take the first steps toward a new working model for Red Leafs football.

"We believe we are on a constructive path to finding a conference to play in 2024 and beyond," Bailey said in a statement, while remaining positive that alumni has provided a solution with an independent draft schedule for 2023.

"We believe our group has created a competitive and unique independent schedule across Canada and the United States for 2023, which can be finalized by stakeholders in short order."

Johnson announced on April 4 that SFU was immediately ending its football program, and athletic director Theresa Hanson told the NOW that the school explored "all avenues" to keep the program going.

The decision caught current players, alumni and stakeholders off guard, which prompted a notice of civil claim filed on April 13 on behalf of SFU football players, claiming the school breached its contract with players.

On Thursday (May 11), B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Stephens ruled against granting an injunction to reinstate the program, saying he had "significant doubt" about the strength of the merits of the plaintiff's claims against SFU.

"In my assessment, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a strong prima facie case for their claim of breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation on its merits....Having failed to demonstrate a strong prima facie case, the plaintiffs have not met the governing legal test to obtain a mandatory injunction."

Shortly after the decision, the university released a statement saying it had hired Bob Copeland as a special advisor to look at the future of the program.

On April 20, the school announced Johnson had directed them to appoint a special advisor to review and make recommendations regarding potential sustainable opportunities for football.

SFU says the scope of work will include evaluating support for competitive exhibition game opportunities for SFU football student-athletes in 2023 as a means of transitioning to a potential new operating model and league in 2024.

Dialogue will also be initiated with selected football governing bodies to explore the feasibility and requirements of SFU football being granted membership status including U SPORTS and Canada West.

SFU says a final report will be made available in September.