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Former Saskatchewan Roughriders president Jim Hopson dead at 73

Jim Hopson, former president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, has died at the age of 73. (Troy Fleece/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Jim Hopson, former president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, has died at the age of 73. (Troy Fleece/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Jim Hopson, the former Saskatchewan Roughriders' lineman and the organization's first full-time CEO and president, has died at the age of 73.

Hopson was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago.

Hopson is being mourned by fans and members of the organization for the legacy he left behind.

"As president, Jim ushered in a new era for our organization that included two Grey Cup Championships, incredible financial success, and perhaps most importantly, a belief in Roughrider football that will never fade away," Roughriders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said in a statement.

"But more than that, Jim was an optimist, someone who made you feel better by just being around him and a friend to all who knew him."

Hopson played an important role for the football club on and and off the field.

He was born in Regina and grew up attending Roughriders games. He played high school football at Thom Collegiate and junior football with the Regina Rams before eventually suiting up as a member of his hometown team from 1973 to 1976.

In each of his four seasons with the Roughriders, the team made the west final.

The success he found on the field with the Roughriders only grew when he joined as the organization's first full-time president and CEO, a role he would hold for a decade.

During that time the team would make it four Grey Cup Championship games; in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013.

They would win in 2007 in Toronto and in 2013 at home in Regina. The organization has yet to win a Grey Cup since then.

In a news release, the Roughriders touted the effect Hopson had on the business side of the organization.

The club posted just a $455 profit in his first year as CEO but during Hopson's decade-long time at the helm, the organization become the Canadian Football League's merchandising leader and outsold all eight other CFL teams combined, according to the Roughriders.

Hopson's contributions earned him many honours, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the CFL's Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award in 2014.

Hopson was inducted into the SaskTel Plaza of Honour in 2018, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019 and the Regina Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.

Earlier this year, the Roughriders renamed its football operations auditorium the Jim Hopson Auditorium. The team says that going forward all Roughriders players, coaches and personnel will walk by the plaque honouring Hopson as they enter their team meetings.