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Simon Fraser Football Alumni Society tables save-the-team proposal to university

Proposal calls for university to open talks with Canada West and U Sports
Simon Fraser University football team players hold a banner after attending a hearing at B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, on Monday, May 1, 2023.The Simon Fraser Football Alumni Society outlined details Friday of a proposal it sent to the school regarding the future of its football program.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Simon Fraser Football Alumni Society outlined details Friday of a proposal it sent to the school regarding the future of its football program.

School president Joy Johnson announced April 4 that Simon Fraser was discontinuing its football program, effective immediately. Johnson said the decision wasn’t based on financial reasons, but on the Texas-based Lone Star Conference’s announcement it would not renew its football affiliation with Simon Fraser past the 2023 campaign.

That prompted five players to file a lawsuit against the school in an effort to have the program reinstated. Afterwards, Simon Fraser said it would bring in a special adviser to examine football’s future but reiterated the team wouldn’t be playing this year.

The players and school attended a hearing Monday in B.C. Supreme Court but Justice K. Michael Stephens reserved decision on an injunction until a later date.

On Friday, the alumni society said it delivered a proposal last week to Johnson “asking to engage on the football program’s future.”

The proposal called for the university to immediately reinstate the football program and open talks with Canada West and U Sports about playing football next season. It also asked for the school’s athletic department to collaborate on a ‘23 football schedule with the alumni society and Football Canada.

The society is also calling on the school to maintain the scholarship amounts for its football student-athletes and rehire the program’s coaches and support staff at their previous salaries.

As well, the alumni asked the school to open discussions with the U.S.-based National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The school played football in the NAIA from 1965 until 2001.

On Friday, Simon Fraser University acknowledged having received the proposal.

“As this matter is currently before the courts, the university has offered a meeting with the president to discuss it further following the conclusion of the legal proceedings,” it said in an email statement. “SFU announced on April 20, 2023 that an adviser will be appointed to review and make recommendations about possible sustainable options for football.

“This has been a very difficult situation, and our hearts are with the football student-athletes and staff who have had an incredibly challenging time over the past few weeks.”

The Alumni Society added an independent schedule of at least eight games is available this year should the program be reinstated. The contests would be against teams in both Canada and western United States and options for 2024 and beyond exist with Canadian and America-based partners having emerged.

The Alumni Society said the school’s decision to cease football has created difficulties for players to both transfer credits and secure alternative scholarship funding. Reinstatement, it said, would “be the best path for student-athletes to satisfy the objectives of an athletic scholarship with minimal affect studies and athletic development.”

“The SFUFAS looks forward to engaging the president in a constructive dialogue focused on solutions for our current student-athletes,” the Alumni Society added. “And promoting SFU football, a foundational program as old and storied as the university it represents.”

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