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SFU’s athletics director leaves university months after football controversy

Independent assessment of the future of SFU football remains ongoing

B.C.’s Simon Fraser University says its athletics director has left the institution.

The departure of Theresa Hanson, the university’s director of athletics and recreation, comes four months after controversy erupted over the school’s elimination of its varsity football program followed by the hiring of a lawyer to investigate claims made by one of its sports teams.

The Burnaby, B.C., university announced the dissolution of the football team on April 4 of this year after their affiliation with an NCAA conference was ended.

Simon Fraser University president Joy Johnson says the decision to eliminate the program wasn’t financially based, but rather on the Texas-based Lone Star Conference’s announcement it would not renew its football affiliation with Simon Fraser past the 2023 campaign.

SFU joined the Lone Star Conference in 2021 for a two-year term and the budget allocated to running the team in the upcoming season would have been $950,000.

The university retained a Vancouver-based lawyer who specializes in investigating sports-related matters in May 2023 after concerns were raised by student-athletes.

A full and independent assessment of the future of SFU football remains ongoing, with a final report expected this September.

“After careful consideration and discussion, Theresa Hanson, Senior Director, Athletics and Recreation, and SFU have come to mutual agreement that the time is right for a change in direction within Athletics and Recreation,” said Rummana Khan Hemani, vice-provost, students and international, in a statement.

The program’s players previously argued for a reinstatement of the program as well as exhibition games in the fall, seeking an injunction in court that was denied.

Bob Copeland, an independent adviser appointed in May to review the possibility of the university’s cancelled football program playing exhibition games in the fall, concluded doing so posed safety and logistical concerns.

His review’s conclusions were accepted by the university, with the school adding that the recommendations were in the best interests of student-athletes’ safety and academic performance.

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