Bellarmine University announced that it will be a charter member of the new Midwest Sprint Football League (MSFL) that will begin play in the fall of 2022.
Sprint football is a non-NCAA sport that adheres to the same rules as regular football with the only exception being a 178-pound weight limit (183 pounds with additional metrics). The weight limitation is designed to make the game both faster-paced and safer.
While not an NCAA sport, the new sprint football team will operate under the umbrella of Bellarmine’s athletics department. Bellarmine’s plans for the sport include hiring a full-time head coach in the near future and recruiting a team of 40 to 50 players to begin play next fall. Bellarmine hopes to expand the roster to as many as 80 players as the sport continues to grow.
Bellarmine will utilize its Newburg Sports Park at 3408 Newburg Road (about two miles south of the main campus) for practice with the game sites still being determined.
“I believe the addition of sprint football will allow local and regional football players the opportunity to continue playing the sport they love and receive a great Bellarmine education,” said Bellarmine Director of Athletics Scott Wiegandt. “The home games will be another gathering point for our campus community to rally around to support their classmates. As we continue on our path and strategically grow as a department, this addition is another step toward realizing the mission of Bellarmine University.”
Sprint football evolved on the East Coast with teams such as the University of Pennsylvania, Army and Navy helping launch the sport in 1934. In its current form, it is organized under the direction of the nine-member Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL), which consists of teams from the eastern U.S. The addition of the separate Midwest Sprint Football League, with its own by-laws and championships, will represent the largest single-year expansion of the sport in nearly 90 years. Joining Bellarmine in the MSFL will be Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.), Fontbonne University (Mo.), Midway University (Ky.), Quincy University (Ill.), and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Ind.).
“Sprint football will be new to some fans in the Midwest and Upper South, but it won’t take long for our part of the country to get excited about sprint football,” said Nancy Blattner, Ph.D., President of Fontbonne University and founding Chair of the MSFL Board of Governors. “Sprint offers a distinctive and fast-paced approach to playing football at the highest level. Our six member institutions are working together to provide new opportunities to student-athletes, who will take football in our four-state region in a different and inspiring direction.”
Bellarmine Senior Vice President Sean Ryan said the addition of sprint football will help the university meet goals established in the university’s long-range strategic plan. “A self-sustaining (sprint football) program makes sense for Bellarmine,” he said. “It deepens our relationships in key target areas for admissions, including the local markets, the South and the Midwest. The increased exposure and coverage that comes with joining this league will allow us to acquaint many more potential students with the benefits of pursuing a liberal arts education at Bellarmine.”
About Bellarmine University: Bellarmine (Louisville, Ky.) is an inclusive independent Catholic university with a strong liberal arts focus that educates students in mind, body and spirit for meaningful lives, rewarding careers, ethical leadership and service to improve the human condition. Founded in 1950, Bellarmine offers more than 60 majors with an undergraduate and graduate enrollment of nearly 3,500 students and has an alumni community of more than 25,000. The Bellarmine Knights field teams in 22 Division I sports, most in the ASUN conference. Bellarmine is listed as a top U.S. university by publications including The Princeton Review, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report.