Message from the President: SFU announces Special Advisor for Football Review, to begin immediately

May 11, 2023

Following the announcement that SFU has no place to play in NCAA football, the university heard the strong desire to find a way forward for football from student-athletes, alumni, and the football community. Acknowledging that there are many challenges to address and a commitment to try to find a solution together, SFU also announced in April that the university would appoint a special advisor to review options and search for a sustainable way forward.

Bob Copeland, Senior Vice-president of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, has been selected as the Special Advisor to explore options for the future of football at SFU. Mr. Copeland has deep knowledge of university sport operating structures and has provided leadership in complex football consulting projects, including for U Sports and the Canadian Football League. His selection was reviewed with the SFU Football Alumni Society president prior to the appointment.

Mr. Copeland and McLaren Global Sport Solutions will work closely with student-athletes, staff, the SFU Football Alumni Society, and others to understand and explore options for a sustainable way forward for football at SFU. The work begins immediately, Mr. Copeland, along with McLaren CEO, Richard McLaren, will be at SFU next week to convene preliminary meetings.

A final report will be shared this September. Anyone interested in providing input to the SFU Football Review can contact Mr. Copeland by email at:

Terms of Reference for the work include to:

  • Provide an independent assessment regarding the viability of resuming an inter-university football program at SFU in 2024 or later.
  • Evaluate support for competitive exhibition game opportunities for SFU football student-athletes in 2023 as a means of transitioning to a potential new operating model and league in 2024.
  • Invite the participation of SFU football stakeholders in the Football Review including, but not limited to, the following:    
    • Current SFU football student-athletes
    • Student-athlete representatives from the SFU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
    • Simon Fraser Students’ Society (SFSS) and other student groups
    • SFU employee groups as requested
    • SFU Football Alumni Association representatives, athletics alumni, and other alumni
    • Football program benefactors
    • SFU senior leadership
    • Athletics Department leadership, coaches, and staff
    • Other affected SFU community members who wish to participate in the process
  • Initiate a dialogue with selected football governing bodies to explore the feasibility and requirements of SFU football being granted membership status. For example, this shall include USPORTS, Canada West Athletics Conference, NAIA, and other organisations that may be identified.
  • Seek the perspectives of other football stakeholders in Canada including the Canadian Football League, Football Canada, and others that may be identified.
  • Identify Key Performance Indicators related to operating a competitive inter-university football program at SFU that provides an exceptional student-athlete experience.
  • Analyse the recent operating budgets for SFU football and assess future program investments required to operate a competitive and sustainable inter-university football program at SFU.
  • Identify the impacts and support related to offering an inter-university football program at SFU.
  • Issue a final report to SFU outlining key findings and options for SFU to consider related to the reinstatement of inter-university football. MGSS also will issue a public report on its website.

The university acknowledges that this has been a difficult time for many people, and thanks football alumni and the football community for being such passionate champions for SFU student-athletes. 

SFU remains focused on supporting our current football student-athletes—including ensuring that their scholarships continue through degree completion and connecting them with other teams if they choose to transfer. I have also shared a message for football student-athletes, staff and alumni.

Joy Johnson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University