Robert Bateman Secondary School grad Sam Davenport has battled for years for the Simon Fraser University football program on the gridiron, but never expected to end his playing career by squaring off against the school in court.
Davenport and his SFU football teammates are in the midst of a B.C. Supreme Court hearing to reinstate the program after the school axed the team on April 4.
SFU made the decision to cut football after the Texas-based Lone Star Conference the school had been competing in announced in February that they would be dropping SFU after the 2023 season.
SFU was on the schedule for the 2023 but instead chose to scrap the program. The school’s athletic director Theresa Hanson stated that the choice to dump football was in the best interest of the student-athletes and the school did not make an application to join Canada’s U Sports conference because the process to join was “incredibly complex”.
Davenport and his teammates disagree with Hanson on what their best interests are and ultimately the fate of the program will play out in court this week. Meanwhile, the Canadian football community has rallied around the student-athletes.
B.C. Lions owner Amar Doman stated that he will donate up to $500,000 of his own money to save the team. SFU alumni have also stepped up with donations and public support. A new group called the SFU Football Mom Squad has formed to bring a female lens to the campaign to save the team. A number of politicians have also pledged their support. More than $700,000 has already been raised to support the program.
"Over 1,000 donors, almost a million dollars. Let's hope that this money will get put to work so we can have a season this fall."— BC LIONS (@BCLions) April 27, 2023
Amar Doman on the latest response in the fight to #SaveSFUFootball
MORE INFO & PETITION LINK 📝 | https://t.co/mMdSF0wGIX pic.twitter.com/MvyPbairvI
In that spirit, Davenport recently penned a letter to SFU president Joy Johnson. He explained he chose SFU for football, but also to focus his studies on criminology. His great grandfather, Dr. H. Ward Smith, was a pioneer in the field of forensic research and was one of the first directors of forensic sciences in Canada.
Davenport wrote that it will be extremely challenging to transfer his football scholarship to another school.
“Without the scholarship, it will be extremely difficult for me to pay for SFU,” he stated. “With me finishing school in the next couple of semesters, transferring to a new school would be difficult. Some of my credits will not transfer which would result in extending the time to complete my degree, putting me into further debt. This is not affordable for me.”
He said all the uncertainty has also taken a toll on his mental health.
“With the continued uncertainty, this process has absolutely destroyed my mental health,” he said. “It is hard not to be frustrated because of the news.”
Davenport re-iterated that this decision by SFU could potentially drastically alter his life and urged Johnson to reconsider.
To read the entire letter, visit firstname.lastname@example.org/letter-to-the-sfu-president-following-in-my-familys-footsteps-d3d6f0f0abe5.
Davenport stated he has not yet heard back from Johnson.
The court hearing began on Monday (May 1) and a decision is expected on or around May 5.