SFU players sue university in bid to save scrapped football program
A group of football players at Simon Fraser University have filed a lawsuit against the school demanding that the football program be reopened.
The five players also filed an injunction seeking to force the school to continue the program next season.
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Quarterback Gideon Kremmler, defensive back Kimo Hiu, Andrew Lirag, Ryan Barselson and linebacker Dayton Ingenhag are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Players allege that the university has breached a contract with them regarding their scholarship obligations.
The motion was filed in the BC Supreme Court on Thursday. This follows the announcement by the university’s president, Joy Johnson, on April 4 that the program will be canceled immediately.
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The school has pledged to honor its sports scholarship commitments for players who choose to remain at the school, even though the program has been discontinued.
“Three guys on the team signed a one-year lease for their house and a week later were told they had no season, so they couldn’t just be here for the summer doing nothing. So I had to ask, Barselson said at a press conference with SFU Football Alumni and Football Canada outside a courthouse in Vancouver.
The university has issued a statement that it is aware of the injunction application and is reviewing and considering next steps.
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“I have never seen a process like this in 30 years without consultation with stakeholders – players, coaches, alumni – but poor decisions can always be undone.” said Jim Mullen, president of Football Canada.
Football Canada, the SFU Football Alumni Association, and the legal team working with current players are also made up of SFU alumni.
“This claim is a safety valve and we hope that we do not have to appear in court for an injunction. I hope it can be resolved,” said Vancouver attorney Peter Gull.
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“The claim is a breach of contract claim. All these players have come to SFU on promises and commitments from SFU’s physical education department. They will play football and receive a good education. is why we’re here,” Gal added.
“And there’s little chance they’ll play elsewhere, play at the same level, get the same level of education. That’s a violation of their contractual rights, we say.”
Gall said the interim injunction filed by the group was to “maintain the status quo.”
“We say the balance of convenience is clearly in favor of granting an injunction. There is,” Gal said.
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The decision to end the program has spurred action and sharp words from Canadian football, especially among those associated with the program.
“I don’t know if I can pick a bad time[to make this decision],” said Dino Jeremiah, who coached at SFU for 17 years.
“They actually had the players go to spring training camp and waited until after that camp to make this announcement. I have.”
SFU Football was due to play that season in the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference this year. The NCAA conference has decided not to renew contracts with Canadian schools for the 2024 season.
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The school said it ended its football program and exhausted all options because there are no leagues to play in after the 2023 season.
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SFU does not appear to have submitted an application to join U Sports, the governing body of Canadian college athletics.
SFU played for U Sports from 2002 to 2009, but organization rules do not allow members to play in more than one conference. SFU is the only Canadian university to participate in the NCAA, and the other athletic teams remain members of the US-based post-secondary athletic organization.
Supporters of the program have accused the university of lacking transparency and making contradictory statements about its decisions.
“Did I say the school made the decision for the players? We had a season to play and we had a team ready to play,” said Mark Bailey, president of the SFU Football Alumni Association. .
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“College says it’s not a financial issue, but other than that, I don’t know. This is the most annoying thing for these student-athletes…it requires a lot of sacrifice. Those students and their parents haven’t really been told why.”
Alumni groups have also posted petitions online to collect signatures in support of their efforts to stop the cancellation of upcoming seasons and programs.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie wrote a letter of recommendation to the SFU, saying U Sports and Canada West should allow the program to play in Canada.
“I am writing to ask for your support in facilitating the continuation of that program by allowing it to return to the Western Canada and U-Sports competition,” Ambrose wrote.
Of course, it is well understood that the cancellation of the Simon Fraser Football Program will affect student-athletes, coaches, staff, volunteers, fans and others within the college community who have put so much effort and passion into the program. increase. ”
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The BC Middle School Football Association has also sent a letter to SFU regarding the cancellation of the program.
“SFU football is an important part of the BC football community,” said Conrad DeGau, association vice president.
“SFU provides a place[for BC students]to attend college and play football close to home and family. It’s an incubator for leaders in the industry,” he added.
“We ask that current and future students not be denied the opportunity.”
A member of the alumni says that dialogue was recently held with the university and they plan to meet next week with hopes of being reinstated. We hope to return.
Neither claim has been proven in court.
— Using Canadian Press files