• 240 individuals were consulted including student-athletes, SFU staff and University leaders, alumni, former coaches, and other community and football stakeholders.
  • The Special Advisor concludes that a competitive football program operating in a U.S.-based league is not feasible or sustainable — including the NCAA and NAIA.
  • U SPORTS and the Canada West Conference offer the best opportunity for SFU football to build a competitive and sustainable program; however, there are major impediments to the application process that must be addressed and other limitations that are highlighted in the report.
  • Membership rules in Canada West and U SPORTS preclude membership in only one sport. As a result, SFU must initiate an application and request an exemption from existing rules if this is the desired path. Such an exemption would be a high bar to meet including two-thirds support from U SPORTS members and seventy-five percent support from Canada West members. Any alternative to a one-sport exemption would require SFU to repatriate some or all of its NCAA DII varsity sports to U SPORTS.
  • If football is granted membership in U SPORTS and Canada West, the Department of Athletics and Recreation would be required to service and support student-athletes in two different governing bodies, adding additional operational complexities and costs.
  • There are significant concerns about the operations of the Department of Athletics and Recreation including rising budget deficits and a lack of capacity to support its current programming.

Vancouver, British Columbia – September 18, 2023 - McLaren Global Sport Solutions (MGSS) today delivered its final report to Simon Fraser University on the future of the school’s football program. The four-month assessment, led by Senior Vice President of MGSS, Bob Copeland, looked at the viability of resuming an inter-university football program at SFU in 2024 or later.

"It quickly became apparent that this issue is about more than football. The University has a great deal of work to do to get the Department of Athletics and Recreation back on a sustainable path before considering the potential return of varsity football,” said Mr. Copeland. "The operational uncertainty in the Department makes it difficult to make decisions in a silo about football because these decisions will have material implications on the Department, its finances, and its culture."

"While many SFU alumni and others in the Canadian football community consider U SPORTS and Canada West to be the optimal fit for SFU football, there are major barriers that must be taken into account,"" said Mr. Copeland.

He continued, "There is not a clear, unincumbered path for the reinstatement of SFU football involving an application to U SPORTS and Canada West given the membership policies that preclude entry in a single sport."

Moreover, according to Mr. Copeland, The operations of the Department of Athletics and Recreation are not sustainable in their current form and must be addressed as it relates to return to play decisions for football.” This finding is supported by a 2022 Benchmark and Scan Report by Deloitte that indicated “a strong sense of urgency in financial viability" for the Department.

"The SFU community can be assured that we consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and their voices are reflected in the report,” said Mr. Copeland. “We appreciate that the football program is an important component of any university’s athletic program and has a special place in the hearts of athletes, students, staff, and alumni at SFU. We hope that SFU takes our findings and charts the best course of action for the University."

The report and its findings represent an independent and objective assessment of return to play considerations as set forth in the Terms of Reference.


The full report can be downloaded here is available on the McLaren Global Sport Solutions website and at:

For further information, please contact:
Catherine Doyle
Avenue Strategic Communications on behalf of MGSS
Tel: 514-641-3266