Canadian Football Hall of Famers Lui Passaglia, Dave Cutler and Doug Brown are among 11 former Simon Fraser University players demanding their names be removed from the SFU Sports Hall of Fame over the school’s decision to cut its football program.
“I don’t wish to be affiliated with or have my prior football career ‘bring excellence’ to a university that no longer recognizes collegiate football as a worthwhile entity or endeavour for young amateur athletes throughout British Columbia,” Passaglia said in a statement .
School president Joy Johnson announced on April 4 that Simon Fraser was discontinuing its football program, effective immediately. Johnson added it wasn’t a financial decision but was based on the Texas-based Lone Star Conference’s announcement it would not renew its football affiliation with Simon Fraser past the 2023 campaign.
Joining Passaglia, Cutler and Brown are Sean Millington, Glen Jackson, Terry Bailey, Wayne Holm, Rick House, Neil McKinlay, Rob McLaren and Orville Lee.
WATCH | SFU footballers speak about their shock immediately following the program’s cancellation:
On April 13, five current SFU players — quarterback Gideone Kremler, defensive backs Kimo Hiu, Andrew Lirag and Ryan Barthelson and linebacker Dayton Ingenhaag — launched a lawsuit in BC Supreme Court against SFU to compel the school to reinstate the program.
Last week, following a meeting between Johnson and SFU football alumni, the school reiterated the team won’t play this season. It added a “special adviser” would be appointed “to review and make recommendations regarding potential sustainable opportunities for football.”
Passaglia and the group said they’d welcome returning to the SFU Sports Hall of Fame “when the football program is reinstated after the administration’s sudden decision on the future of football on April 4.”
Passaglia was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004, following an illustrious CFL career with the BC Lions (1976-2000). At the time of his retirement, Passaglia held numerous league records, including most regular seasons played (25), regular-season games (408) and regular-season points scored (3,991).
Cutler was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1998 following 16 seasons with Edmonton (1969-84) and six Gray Cup titles.
Millington was the first player taken in the 1990 CFL draft by Edmonton. Over 12 seasons, he also spent time with BC, Winnipeg and Toronto, winning two Gray Cups and twice being named the league’s top Canadian.
“My experience at SFU was formative and something I cherished,” Millington said. “It was a very special time…. And because of that, I can’t support the administration’s decision to take this opportunity away from the next generation .”
Brown echoed similar sentiments for his decision.
“The administration has eliminated half of the university football opportunities for our players in BC,” he said. “We all stand united in saying this is unacceptable and not representative of the Simon Fraser program we represented.”
Brown began his pro football career in the NFL with Buffalo and Washington before joining the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2001. During his 11 seasons with the Blue Bombers, Brown was a league all-star seven times and its top Canadian in 2001.
Brown was enshrined into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
Added Lee: “The manner in which this situation was handled was very underhanded and sent a message of great disrespect for all past, present and future student-athletes.”
Lee was taken first overall in the 1988 CFL draft by the then-Ottawa Rough Riders. He made an immediate impact with the franchise, earning the league’s top rookie award after rushing for a league-high 1.075 yards.