Judson University adds football
Football is coming to Judson, the Elgin Christian liberal arts university announced Monday.
The NAIA football program has a head coach -- Judson graduate Shawn Flynn ('89), a former baseball and basketball player who coaches high school football in Colorado -- and intends to play a 10-game schedule beginning in the fall of 2021.
"We're excited about it," said Chad Gassman, Judson athletic director and head baseball coach. "We're using football to help us with enrollment. Athletics is an important piece to the puzzle here at Judson so adding football does help with the enrollment piece and we're not ashamed to say that.
"The second piece is that football brings a campus community together. People gather at football games and around football programs."
Games will not take place on campus, however. Judson football games will be played at a local high school. Negotiations with local school district officials have begun in earnest, Gassman said.
Flynn, originally from Marshalltown, Iowa, said he became aware of Judson's plan to add football last December, when he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and spoke at Fall Commencement. He is the president and managing partner of a Colorado-based advertising agency called AdPro 360.
In Flynn's spare time, he is the offensive coordinator at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo. The Ponderosa Mustangs are 6-2 this season.
"This will be my first true head coaching experience," he said. "I feel like it's a tremendous opportunity and it's humbling. I was once recruited to Judson and I've got a pretty good understanding of the benefits of going there. I can speak personally to the players why I went there."
The new coach said the program will be built in stages over the next three years. He hopes to recruit at least 30 players by next fall, enough to perhaps schedule some club-level games.
The goal is 70 players the following year, at which point the program could begin playing "true junior varsity games," Flynn said.
The ultimate goal is to recruit 100 to 125 players and field a full team at the NAIA level in 2021.
Gassman did not name the conference Judson will join, but it is expected the Eagles will apply for membership in the Mid-States Football Association, which counts Olivet Nazarene, Saint Xavier and St. Francis among its membership.