|Misericordia president Michael MacDowell, athletic director Dave Martin and MAC commissioner Ken Andrews attend the Cougars football announcement ceremony.|
Misericordia will put its 86-year football unbeaten streak on the line as the Board of Trustees has approved the addition of football as a varsity sport.
The move to add football supports Misericordia’s recently approved strategic plan that calls for thoughtful growth and an increase in the university’s regional acclamation. The school, a Catholic institution located in Dallas, Pa., just northwest of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was founded in 1924 as a women's college and went co-ed in the 1970s.
“This is an exciting time for the Misericordia University community, in particular the intercollegiate athletics program,” said David Martin, director of athletics. “This is one of the most impactful changes in the history of our institution.”
The 14th sport added since Misericordia joined the NCAA Division III in 1992, football brings MU’s total number of intercollegiate offerings to 23.
“In an ongoing effort to meet the demands of our student-athletes, our athletics program has grown in proportion to the University over the last two decades,” said Martin. “The addition of football will have a significant impact on our entire operation.”
The first order of business is finding a coach as the Cougars prepare for the 2012 season. “We will immediately begin a national search for a head coach,” said Martin. “We hope to have a coach in place by February to begin the recruiting process for 2012.”
The 2012 MAC lineup:
Who else is adding football? Check our FAQ for the full list.
While the addition of football has been rumored for at least 20 years, the possibility became more realistic with MU’s transition to the MAC and Freedom Conference in 2008 – the Cougars will become the 10th MAC school to offer football, following Stevenson, which will join as an affiliate member with its first team next fall. “Being in a conference that sponsors football certainly added fuel to the football fire on campus,” said Martin. “The change in conference affiliation was one of many factors in our decision.”
The decision also comes in conjunction with the on-going improvements to Misericordia’s athletics facilities. “Our goal has always been to provide our student-athletes with a first-rate experience which includes quality facilities. Our fitness center is relocating to the upper level of the Anderson Center and will more than double in size. The current fitness center will be converted into office space.”
Mangelsdorf Field, the current home for MU’s soccer, field hockey and soccer teams, will also undergo a facelift. In addition to the 10-year-old turf being replaced, the complex will see increased seating capacity and a field house/press box. “These are major upgrades which will have a positive impact on a larger percentage of our student-athletes as well as visiting teams.”
Anderson Field, the previous varsity soccer field, will be converted to artificial grass and the baseball field will also be upgraded.