MILLIGAN, Tenn. (Aug. 19, 2020) – Milligan University Vice President for Athletics and Student Development Mark Fox announced Wednesday that the university has received a grant from the National Football League (NFL) which will help fund the start-up of a women’s flag football program beginning spring 2021. Milligan is one of the first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools to declare their intent to participate in this emerging sport.
“It is an honor to be selected by the NFL and the NAIA to receive this grant to help launch women’s flag football at Milligan University,” Fox said. “The NFL brings tremendous support, resources and credibility to our efforts. I applaud both the NFL and NAIA for this pioneering effort. During a time when most organizations are taking the approach to retreat, these groups are allowing us to join them in pushing ahead.”
The NAIA is the first athletic affiliation to offer collegiate women’s flag football as a varsity sport following a partnership with the NFL and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX), announced last May.
Milligan is one of the first 15 NAIA schools to declare intent to participate in women’s flag football and is set to compete as a varsity sport in the inaugural NAIA season.
“One of the major reasons that we are excited about this venture is because this sport allows young women to chase their passion at the collegiate level and gives them an opportunity to obtain a Milligan University degree that they might not otherwise be able to afford or consider,” Fox said.
Women’s flag football becomes the 29th sport sponsored at Milligan and the 16th with opportunity for female student-athletes. It is the first sport added since esports in 2019, as well as the first women’s-only and NAIA sport addition since women’s golf in 2010.
“I look forward to searching for our first coach,” Fox added. “The university is excited to provide athletic scholarships and other financial resources so that the team can become competitive while achieving the goals of graduation and career preparedness within an intentionally Christian university environment.”
The NAIA has two status levels prior to becoming a championship sport, which allows for a timely approach for the sport to find success and interest amongst NAIA membership. Emerging is the first step, which requires 15 schools to begin a program and declare intent to participate the following year. The NAIA has reached this level with Milligan as one of these 15 schools.
The next step for women’s flag football is invitational status, which requires 25 schools to declare such intent. The final stage would be to become a championship sport, which requires a minimum of 40 schools and NAIA final approval.
The NAIA plans to host an emerging sport or invitational championship for women’s flag football in spring 2022.
Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX)
Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX) is a premier youth-sports experiences business, running and operating leagues, camps, combines, tournaments and events across the United States.
Part of Reigning Champs LLC, RCX works with professional leagues, national governing bodies, sports-centric businesses and brands to reimagine youth sports experiences. RCX produces events with world-class partners including the NFL, NBA, Rivals and Adidas.
Reigning Champs Experiences is committed to growing youth sports participation and creating a path to college for all students. In 2019, Reigning Champs’ family of businesses donated $23 million in services to deserving student-athletes and families. Each year, Reigning Champs’ innovative platforms support over 2 million athletes across 34 sports.
As the official operating partner of NFL FLAG and the NAIA Showcases, RCX will help facilitate women’s collegiate flag football across the NAIA and drive participation through women’s flag football NAIA Showcases. The NAIA will host its first showcase open to female football athletes in the late summer or early fall of 2020.