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Budget deficit a major factor in SFU football cancellation, despite earlier denials

A report from the special adviser hired to look into the viability of Simon Fraser University's football program appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the varsity team that was suddenly eliminated five months ago, provoking a huge outcry.

Additionally, the report says the department overseeing varsity sports at SFU has major money problems, with an operational deficit of $1.7 million this year.

"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," says the report.

Players and alumni were blindsided in early April by the news that SFU president Joy Johnson had folded the team due to "ongoing uncertainty." 

On the same day, SFU's senior director of athletics and recreation, Theresa Hanson, told players the decision was not financially motivated. Hanson left SFU four months later.

The report says there is no clear, unencumbered path for the reinstatement of SFU football in the U.S., where it played for most of its 57 years in existence, or in Canada.

It said the best opportunity for SFU to revive football would be through the Canada West Conference of U Sports, however the school would have to seek an exemption or agree to change other varsity sports teams to U Sports, incurring "operational complexities and costs."

The report was prepared by Bob Copeland, senior vice-president of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, who was hired by SFU in June to serve as a special adviser and to explore future football options. 

The elimination of the team provoked outrage from the greater football community, including a group of high-profile player graduates — including Lui Passaglia — who demanded