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'Difficult decision': SFU announces end of varsity football program

In January, the Lone Star Conference decided to decline the Red Leafs' affiliate membership agreement renewal.
SFU has announced the end of its varsity football program.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) has sacked its football team.

In a statement today (April 4), SFU president Joy Johnson revealed that the Burnaby post-secondary institution has decided to end the varsity program, effective immediately. 

Earlier this year, SFU said the Lone Star Conference decided not to renew the affiliate membership agreement with the school for football. 

The Red Leafs were a part of NCAA Div. II competition — the second highest level of collegiate sports in the U.S. 

"This is a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly," Johnson said in Tuesday's statement. 

"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." 

Johnson said the school will honour athletic scholarship commitments for those who choose to stay at SFU and meet eligibility requirements for the 2023-24 school year. 

"We made this decision now to give students time to make other plans for their athletic careers if they so choose. All students impacted are being supported with one-on-one guidance regarding next steps," she added.

"We will support football athletes who want to explore options outside of SFU, and will honour athletic scholarship commitments for those who choose to remain at SFU and meet eligibility requirements for the 2023-24 school year." 

Johnson added that the SFU Athletics Awards and Hall of Fame banquet that was scheduled for Wednesday (April 5) has been postponed until the fall. 

"SFU Athletics will engage with the SFU football community on how best to celebrate more than 50 years of history in this sport....Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our football legacy. We are so grateful for everything you have contributed to the university, both on and off the field."

BC Lions 'deeply saddened and disappointed'

In response to the announcement, the BC Lions released a statement saying the club is saddened and disappointed. 

“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.”