Women’s college football is just around the corner.
The NFL announced on Monday that it’s teaming up with the NAIA and Reigning Champs Experiences to create women’s flag football as a varsity sport in NAIA by 2021.
The two-year partnership with the professional league involves creating both infrastructure and operations underneath the jurisdiction of the NAIA. The current timeline projects the sport to start in Spring 2021. RCX will help organize showcases for female athletes to earn opportunities.
“Football is for everyone,” said Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations. “This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America.”
By spring 2022, the NAIA hopes to host some form of championship. To be eligible for emerging sport status, it must have at least 15 participating institutions. For an invitational, 25 must participate. To reach full championship status, at least 40 institutions must participate. There are 300 schools in the NAIA ranks.
The expansion of college football to the women’s ranks comes at a revolutionary time for women in football. San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers became the first ever female coach to work in the Super Bowl in February. Heather Marini was recently named quarterbacks coach at Brown University in 2020, becoming the first female Division-I position coach. In 2019, Central Methodist’s Toni Harris became the first woman to sign a National Letter of Intent to play a skill position at the college level; she plays safety.
“By teaming up with the NAIA, we’re able to create even more opportunities for young women to continue the sport they love and potentially receive scholarships to continue their education and compete at the next level,” RCX president Izell Reese.
Four NAIA colleges currently play varsity football in Texas: Southwestern Assemblies of God, Texas College, Texas Wesleyan and Wayland Baptist. Nine other schools are part of the NAIA and could start programs, including Paul Quinn University, Huston-Tillotson and Texas A&M campuses in San Antonio and Texarkana.
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