BURNABY, British Columbia (AP) — The only Canadian college with NCAA membership is shutting down its football program.
Simon Fraser President Joy Johnson announced the decision in a letter Tuesday, saying that uncertainties about the future for the program led to the decision to discontinue it.
“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 wrote.
Simon Fraser became the only Canadian school to hold NCAA membership when it was approved to begin competing at the Division II level starting in 2010. The school has competed in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference since joining the NCAA, but having a league for football has been an ongoing issue for all Division II programs on the West Coast as several schools have stopped playing the sport.
Simon Fraser, Central Washington and Western Oregon became affiliate members last season of the Lone Star Conference, which consists primarily of football programs in Texas and New Mexico. But the conference announced earlier this year that Simon Fraser would no longer be invited to play in the conference beginning in 2024.
“This is a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly,” Johnson wrote. “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.”
Simon Fraser went 1-9 last season and had to move two of its games south of the border. They were played on a high school field in Blaine, Washington, due to Canadian COVID-19 entry requirements at the time.
Simon Fraser also competed in football against American schools as an NAIA member from 1969 to 2001. The school competed in Canada West from 2002-09.
The school said it intends to continue competing at the NCAA Division II level and in the GNAC in the other sports that it offers.