Citing the devastating effect on football players who graduated from Terry Fox Secondary, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West exhorted Simon Fraser University to get back on the gridiron.
West published an open letter to the school on social media, urging the university to reconsider the cancellation of their varsity football program.
Following a 1-8 season that left the Red Leafs in last place, the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference dropped SFU earlier this year.
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Without a conference lined up for 2024, the school opted to drop football, explained provost Wade Parkhouse.
“The ongoing uncertainty creates an unacceptable experience for students. As a leadership team, we concluded that football is no longer a feasible sport for SFU,” Parkhouse stated in a press release.
SFU was the only Canadian team competing in NCAA Division II.
Five SFU student-athletes have taken legal action to keep football at the school, filing an application for an injunction in the Supreme Court of B.C.
SFU offered the football players the chance to extend their academic scholarships for one more year, according to a report filed by CBC journalist Moira Wyton. However, the only adequate compensation is to bring back varsity football, according to the claim.
For many Port Coquitlam student-athletes, the decision to drop football is “devastating,” according to West.
“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 wrote.
West urged the school to temporarily continue the program until the athletes can move elsewhere, “instead of leaving them high and dry as many of them feel they have been left.”
One year earlier
In the spring of 2022, SFU announced a promising group of student-athletes that head football coach Mike Rigell called: “the strongest BC recruiting class that SFU has signed since joining the NCAA.”
That class included Terry Fox grads Alex Gagnon, a highly touted linebacker, as well as imposing lineman Juan Valle.
“Coming to SFU is a win-win situation,” Rigell stated at the time. “You are coming to a world-class university that provides a great education and you are playing in the best football conference in NCAA Division II.”
The current roster includes Terry Fox grads: defensive back Kyle Huish, linebackers Isaiah Cooper and Tom Wiggin, and lineman Jordan Sye.
The team also includes Centennial grads: defensive back Drew Lirag, running back Ziad Sabry, wide receiver Jeseo Kim, and lineman Cameron Keeskotagan.