media release

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:

1. Provide an independent assessment regarding the viability of resuming an inter-university football program at SFU in 2024 or later. 

2. 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.

3. 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

4. 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.

5. Seek the perspectives of other football stakeholders in Canada including the Canadian Football League, Football Canada, and others that may be identified.

6. Identify Key Performance Indicators related to operating a competitive inter-university football program at SFU that provides an exceptional student-athlete experience.

7. 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. 

8. Identify the impacts and support related to offering an inter-university football program at SFU.

9. 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 their current football student-athletes—including ensuring that their scholarships continue through degree completion and connecting them with other teams if they choose to transfer. SFU has shared a video message for football student-athletes from President Joy Johnson as well.
About McLaren Global Sport Solutions Inc. (MGSS)
MGSS is led by Professor Richard H. McLaren, O.C., an internationally recognized expert in sport law and governance. MGSS was established in 2014 to assist sports organisations with complex challenges encompassing all facets of governance, integrity, and strategic planning. MGSS’ mission is to help sports organisations protect and enhance their brand, navigate difficult organisational issues related to ethics, governance, and integrity, and inform strategic business decisions. Visit: for more information.
About Bob Copeland, Senior Vice-President, MGSS
Mr. Copeland joined MGSS in 2014 following a successful 18-year career at the University of Waterloo where he held senior positions including the Associate Vice-President, Development and Alumni Affairs and Director of Athletics. Copeland has deep experience related to university governance, strategic program reviews, and football operations. This includes stewarding the University of Waterloo football program through a one-year university-imposed suspension in 2010 following a highly publicized issue involving Performance Enhancing Drugs. Copeland also led a complex Review of U Sports football in 2019 including extensive analysis of — and consultation with — every university football program in Canada. He also completed a pioneering Strategic Review of Amateur Football in Canada for the CFL with engagement from all facets of amateur football across Canada. And, in 2015 at the invitation of the B.C. Lions, he facilitated the British Columbia Amateur Football Summit.


BRADEN MCMILLAN, SFU Communications & Marketing

Simon Fraser University 
Communications & Marketing | SFU Media Experts Directory 


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As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 364 undergraduate degree programs and 149 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 180,000 alumni residing in 145+ countries.