A group of football players at Simon Fraser University has filed a lawsuit against the school demanding that it reinstate its football program.
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Five players have also filed an injunction application, seeking to compel the school to keep the program active for the next season.
Quarterback Gideon Kremmler, defensive backs Kimo Hiu, Andrew Lirag and Ryan Barthelson, and linebacker Dayton Ingenhaug are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The players allege that the university has breached its contract with them regarding scholarship obligations.
The claim was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday. This follows an announcement on April 4 by University President Joy Johnson that the program would be discontinued with immediate effect.
Saving SFU’s Football Team
The school pledged to honor athletic scholarship commitments for players who chose to remain with the school despite the program’s termination.
“The three guys on the team signed a lease for their house for the whole year and a week later, they were told they didn’t have a season, so they couldn’t really do anything here for the summer, so He had to beg.” Get their lease, it sucks,” Barthelson said at a press conference with the SFU Football Alumni Society and Football Canada outside the Vancouver Courthouse.
The university issued a statement saying it is aware of the injunction application and is reviewing and considering next steps.
“I have never in 30 years seen a process like this with zero consultation with stakeholders, be it players, coaches or alumni. But the thing with bad decisions is you can always take them back,” said Jim Mullen, president of Football Canada.
The legal team working with Soccer Canada, the SFU Soccer Alumni Society and current players also includes SFU alumni.
“The claim is a safety valve, and we hope that we will not need to appear in court for an injunction. We hope that the university will realize the consequences of its decision and will be able to resolve it so that the team can The season could play out as planned,” said Vancouver lawyer Peter Gall.
Bitterness over the abrupt end of SFU’s football program
“The claim is a breach of contract claim. All of these players came to SFU based on promises and commitments from SFU’s athletic department that they would play football and get a good education – that’s why they are here,” said Gaul.
“And the prospect of them playing somewhere else with very little notice and playing at the same level and getting the same level of education is remote. We say this is a breach of his contractual rights.
Gall said the interim injunction filed by the group is to “maintain the status quo”.
“We maintain that the balance of convenience clearly favors granting an injunction. We contend substantial harm to the players, their aspirations to play football and their academic aspirations,” Gall said.
The decision to end the program has prompted action and sharp words from within the Canadian football world, especially among those closely involved with the program.
“I don’t know if you could pick a worse time (to make this decision),” said Dino Geremia, who coached at SFU for 17 years.
“They actually let players go through spring camp and waited until after that camp was over to make this announcement – it completely steals any opportunity the players might have had to transfer to another university.” Is.”
SFU football was to play its season in the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference this year. The NCAA conference decided not to renew its contract with the Canadian school for the 2024 season.
SFU football players react to event cancellation
The school said it ended the football program after the 2023 season due to not having a league to play in and that it had exhausted all options.
It appears that SFU has not submitted an application to join U Sports, the governing body of Canadian university athletics.
SFU played in U Sports between 2002 and 2009, although the organization’s rules do not allow members to play in multiple conferences. SFU is the only Canadian university to participate in the NCAA, and its other athletic teams are members of the US-based Post-Secondary Athletics Organization.
Supporters of the program have accused the university of not being transparent with the decision and making contradictory statements.
“The school said they made a decision for the players? There was a season to be played and a team that was ready to play,” said Mark Bailey, president of the SFU Football Alumni Society.
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“The university has said it’s not financial, but other than that I don’t know what it will be. It’s most upsetting because these student-athletes… make a lot of sacrifices. Those students and their parents Why hasn’t the father really been told.
The alumni group has also posted a petition online to gather signatures to support their work to prevent the upcoming season and cancellation of the event.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie wrote a letter of support for the SFU, saying that U Sports and Canada West should allow the program to play in Canada.
Ambrosie wrote, “I am writing to ask for your support in facilitating the continuation of that program by allowing it to return to Canada West and U Sports competition.”
“Certainly, it is well understood that the closure of the Simon Fraser football program impacts the student-athletes, coaches, staff, volunteers, fans and others in the university community who put so much effort and passion into that program.” inserted.”
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The BC Secondary Schools Football Association has also written to the SFU to cancel the event.
“SFU Football is an important component of the football community in BC,” said Konrad Degau, vice-president of the association.
“SFU provides a place where (BC students) can attend university and play football close to their homes and families. It also provides opportunities for many leaders in our community through business, media, politics and school teachers. There’s an incubator.”
“I urge you not to deprive current and future students of that opportunity.”
Alumni members say talks have been held with the university in recent days and plan to meet next week with hopes of reinstatement. If that doesn’t happen, he is expected to move the court again on May 3 for an interim injunction.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
With files from The Canadian Press