Madonna University Athletics Adds Football

August 08, 2018

Play to Begin in 2020

LIVONIA, Mich. - Madonna University President Michael Grandillo joined Athletics Director Scott Kennell at today’s news conference to announce that the University will add football to its intercollegiate athletics program, bringing the total offerings to 20 teams.

“We are excited to add football to our athletic offerings,” stated Dr. Grandillo. “We hope bringing collegiate football to Western Wayne County will be as thrilling for the communities we serve as it is to the Madonna community. The strength and success of our current programs gives us confidence that Crusaders’ football will find success as well.”

The Crusaders compete in the 12-school Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). This is the ninth sport added under Grandillo’s leadership, following the addition of eight teams in 2015.

This addition has been in the planning stages for several years. According to Kennell a national search for the program’s first head coach will begin this fall, with the hope that a coach is hired this winter. The plan is for 2019-2020 to be a redshirt season, during which  Madonna’s team would practice before holding an inaugural game in Spring 2020.Team practice will be on Madonna’s campus, with games initially being played at a location to be determined in conjunction with Livonia Public Schools. The first season of competition will be the fall of 2020.

Madonna joins three other WHAC schools that offer football:  Concordia (Mich.), Siena Heights, and Lawrence Tech - who begins play this fall as an independent. All compete in the Mid-States Football Association (MFSA) (LTU will join in 2019). It is expected the Crusaders will join them in the MSFA as the 16th team in the conference.

“Football has the opportunity to be a driving force for our department moving forward,” added Kennell. “It is a great way for us to build a larger community fan base for Madonna Athletics and can lead to other opportunities for students such as cheerleading, competitive dance and a marching band.  All of which, we are currently looking into.  We are coming off the most successful season in Madonna Athletics history and we feel this is the next natural step for our Athletics Program.”

“This will be a wonderful experience not only for the student-athletes who come here to continue their education and compete on the Intercollegiate level, but also for our entire student body, alumni and Livonia Community as a whole. Football is going to bring visibility to our campus, and in return, enhance the University and the local communities,” said Kennell.

There currently are eight conferences within the NAIA that sponsor football with Lawrence Tech and Indiana Wesleyan, both startup programs, competing as independents next fall.

The new student-athletes will join a department that has excelled academically in addition to its athletic accomplishments. Consistently, over the last decade, Madonna University student-athletes have posted a department-wide grade point average (GPA) above 3.0, which includes a 3.04 mark in the 2017-18 year.


  • According to a Michigan High School Association news release on July 13, 2017, there were 640 schools that sponsored football in 2016-17 with 15 programs dropping 11-player teams while 13 added 8-player programs.
  • There were 36,460 participants in 11-player football with 1,130 competing on 8-player teams.
  • The Mid-States Football Association currently features 15 programs, the second-most in the NAIA, including all three WHAC programs.
  • 90 NAIA schools currently sponsor the sport.
  • The hope for roster construction is to have 40 players in year one with a roster size of 90-110 student-athletes before beginning competition in Fall 2020.

About Crusader Athletics: Madonna University currently sponsors the sports of baseball, men's and women's basketball, men’s and women’s bowling, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and volleyball. Crusader teams have been members of the WHAC since 1997 and members of the NAIA since 1987 when volleyball became the university's first varsity sport. Since joining the WHAC in 1997, Madonna University teams have won over 50 conference titles and made more 30 appearances at their respective NAIA National Championships.

About Madonna University: Liberal arts education, career preparation and service-learning have been the hallmarks of Madonna University since 1937. Conveniently located at I-96 and Levan Road in Livonia, Madonna offers more than 100 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs in the colleges of arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, education, and nursing and health, as well as the School of Business and the Graduate School. Michigan's lowest priced private, Catholic university, Madonna welcomes students from diverse backgrounds.

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