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Simon Fraser University announces end of football program

Simon Fraser University Simon Fraser University - The Canadian Press

Simon Fraser University announced Tuesday that its varsity football program will be no longer as it hasn’t been invited to continue play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Lone Star Conference.

"I am saddened to share that we are announcing the end of SFU's varsity football program," said SFU president Joy Johnson in a statement. "Simon Fraser University is incredibly proud of our long football history, student-athletes, coaches and alumni."

"This is a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly. 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."

Established in 1965, the Burnaby, B.C.-based Simon Fraser Red Leafs played by traditional American football rules and competed against American schools in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics from their inaugural season until 2001.

The Red Leafs later transferred to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and played under Canadian football rules for seven seasons (2002-09), winning the Hardy Trophy as the winner of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association Football Conference in 2003.

Transferring back to the American game in 2010, SFU joined the NCAA Division II's Great Northwest Conference. Simon Fraser played over a decade in the Great Northwest (2010-21) before joining the Lone Star Conference in 2022.

It was announced in February that SFU would be dropped from the conference after one season of membership.

"SFU is Canada's only NCAA team. We are committed to excelling in the NCAA Division II in 18 varsity sports, with more than 300 student-athletes. In recognition of this loss to the SFU community, the SFU Athletics Awards and Hall of Fame banquet, scheduled for April 5, has been postponed until the fall," said Johnson.

"SFU Athletics will engage with the SFU football community on how best to celebrate more than 50 years of history in this sport."