Five SFU Football players have filed an injunction with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to end the university’s heavily criticized decision to cancel its college football program last week.
In a separate civil action, the players allege Simon Fraser University’s decision breached their contract despite its offer to honor their college scholarships for one more year.
“These players all came to SFU on the basis of promises … that they would play football and receive a great education,” attorney Peter Gall told the B.C. Supreme Court Thursday afternoon.
“So with very little notice, the program is now terminated. We say it’s a breach of contract.”
None of the claims in either action have been tested or proven in court, and the university has not filed an official response.
In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson said the university is aware of the injunction and will “review and consider next steps.”
Last week, Simon Fraser University President Joy Johnson said the decision was the result of “continuing uncertainty” due to the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference’s announcement that she would drop out of SFU football from 2024.
SFU Football is the only Canadian college team in the NCAA II U.S. Division and, it is claimed, has sent more players to the Canadian Football League than any other university. The school still had a place to play in the upcoming 2023 season.
The players and SFU Football Alumni Association president Mark Bailey also said the SFU took no steps to consult with players, alumni or explore other league options in Canada before deciding to terminate. scheduled for April 4.
Since the school’s decision, there has been a lot of support for SFU Football. CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, Canadian Football League Players’ Association Executive Director Brian Ramsay and Football Canada President Jim Mullin all wrote letters to Simon Fraser, officials at U Sports and Canada West and football coaches condemning the decision and demanding that SFU be allowed to continue playing football in Canada.
Bailey and Gall hope the injunction will pressure the university to reverse the decision by May 3, when the dispute will go to court.
“It’s more about moving forward and having an ongoing conversation to get to where we need to be,” Bailey said. “If we haven’t tabled this, I don’t know if we can make it happen.”
SFU has offered players to continue their college scholarships for one more year, but Gall and the players say nothing less than reinstating the program isn’t enough.
“No other remedy will adequately compensate (players) for what they will lose if the 2023 season is cancelled,” the claim reads.
Gall noted that the timing of the decision makes it impossible for many players to find a new team to play before the start of next season, or for scheduling to take place if the SFU team is reinstated.
The uncertainty has been destabilizing and demoralizing, according to filed affidavits and public comments from players.
“The hardest thing about this process is looking around the faces, all my guys who could be their last season playing together as a team, and to see that stripped of them is just devastating,” Key said. ‘Shaun Dorsey, a second-year player from Surrey, British Columbia — southeast of Vancouver — who is not part of the prosecution.
As a local, Dorsey hasn’t had to deal with the same housing, study and visa issues that other players say the upheaval has caused them.
But he says he can’t stay at SFU to study if the team isn’t reinstated.
“My dream is to play football,” Dorsey said. “That would mean the world would have one more season.”
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