No hope for football
View from the sidelines


With the Super Bowl taking place over a week ago, signalling the end of major football until the CFL starts up in the summer, it means it’s time for the annual “UNB needs a football team” edition of View from the Sidelines.

I’ve stated many times in the past why I think UNB would benefit from a team, so this year, rather than me wishing and hoping that we’d somehow get a team, I decided to go straight to the source and see how realistic of a possibility a team is.

“I wouldn’t even know how to go there,” says Kevin Dickie, UNB Athletic Director. “We went through some difficult changes last year in athletics. I don’t want this to sound the wrong way, but when it came to budgeting on Jan. 23, we realized we were ahead of the curve. We really could not have ran a balanced budget in ‘09-10 if we didn’t make the necessary changes.”

“We just made changes to reduce the size of our varsity program, so really, I don’t even think about anything else right now, whether it be football or any sport. There are a lot of great CIS sports out there. Football is definitely one of them, but for us right now I’d rather just get through the decision we made from last year.”

Recently, some people were excited by talk of an Atlantic Football League, specifically with comments by league creator Barry Ogden that the AFL would be comprised of teams in Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton, and that the two former teams would carry the UNB name – although the team members wouldn’t have to be enrolled at either institution to play.

The UNB Saint John Athletic Director stated that the campus already had a football club that isn’t funded by the university and that wouldn’t be changing for the coming year. Dickie says that Ogden has never spoken to him about reviving the Red Bombers.
“I honestly don’t know anything about it. Obviously being the Director of Athletics, I’m in the middle of a lot of conversations and I’ve never had a phone call or an email related to football that I haven’t returned.”

While putting a UNB team in the AFL doesn’t appear likely, what about forming a proper club team?

“We have talked about club football going back to last year at about this time and we really had some significant conversations about that would be a good step to have happen. I think that how it’s unfolded is a little bit different than the university taking ownership of it. When you talk about club programming here, it’s for university students, not for university students and then X number of percent from outside. So I really don’t know what that [AFL] group is working on right now.”

Aside from monetary issues, Dickie indicated that there would be logistical and staffing issues with adding another team, as well as the issue of gender equity.

CIS rules state that member schools must have an equal number of men’s and women’s teams competing in CIS athletics. This means that if UNB were to add a varsity football squad to the current eight team line-up, the Reds would also have to add another women’s varsity sport.

Despite the large obstacles preventing a UNB football team, Dickie admits that he is a football fan and ideally the school would have a squad of their own.

“I don’t miss any Saskatchewan Roughriders games when I’m back home and I’ve been to two universities where there was football and it was a big part of my life when growing up. In a perfect world, it would be great, but everyone knows that universities across Canada right now aren’t living in a perfect world.”

Like Dickie said, in a perfect world, UNB would have a football team and the Red Bombers would ride again. But at the current time, there’s no feasible way, short of a large influx of cash or cutting a great number of teams and personnel, to make it happen.

So will UNB have a football team anytime soon? No.

Should they someday when it’s more feasible? Yes.

Tony von Richter is a former Sports Editor of The Brunswickan and is the current Sports Bureau Chief for Canadian University Press. Feel free to contact him at