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SFU football players, alumni in court asking for axed program’s rebirth

Lawyer asks for injunction requiring the university to bring back football
A Simon Fraser University football helmet is shown in a handout photo. The school ceased the program amid concerns it would have nowhere to play after the 2023 season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO/Simon Fraser University

The lawyer representing players and alumni of Simon Fraser University’s football team asked a judge to grant an injunction that would require the university to attempt to bring back the axed program.

The university announced the dissolution of the football program on April 4 after a Texas-based athletic conference said it would not renew its football affiliation with Simon Fraser beyond the 2023 season.

Lawyer Peter Gall, representing the players and alumni, told B.C. Supreme Court on Monday that his clients are seeking: reinstatement of all athletes; reinstatement of coaches to their former roles; and for the school to take good faith steps to find a new conference for the team to play in or find an alternative schedule for the team next season.

Gall says the university has shown “little regard” for the players and their well-being.

Emily Kirkpatrick, the lawyer representing the university, refuted that statement saying there is no evidence to support that notion.

Kirkpatrick says the school took reasonable steps to inform the athletes and coaches of the program’s demise.

“There was a characterization of the evidence, there was plain overlooking of some of the evidence and in my submission, there was liberties taken with what that evidence actually says,” she told the court.

She said the end was brought about by the Lone Star Conference revoking the university’s programs citing the cost of travel and low competitive performance. The team went 1-9 last season and 1-7 in the 2021 season.

SFU joined the Lone Star Conference in 2021 for a two-year term.

But, Gall said, there is still a chance to save the football program.

“It’s not too late,” he told the court. “The players want to stay and play here. The coaches are still available and they can be reinstated. That’s not an insurmountable hurdle.”

The trial is scheduled to last the day.

—Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Simon Fraser University ceases its football program