The NFL announced on Tuesday that 15 colleges have committed to adding a women’s flag football program to their athletic departments that will be ready to begin in Spring 2021. This comes just one month after the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Football League (NFL), and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX) came together to introduce women’s flag football into college sports to begin with.
Having 15 schools pledge to incorporate this sport means that it is under the “emerging” step of becoming an official championship sport. The schools that will have a flag football team with players who are given college scholarships are Cottey College, Florida Memorial University, Kansas Wesleyan University, Keiser University, La Sierra University, Midland University, Milligan College, Ottawa University, Reinhardt University, St. Thomas University, Tougaloo College, University of Saint Mary, Warner University, Webber International University and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Not much is known about how the league will operate with these 15 teams. But that’s where NFL Flag, the NFL’s official flag football league, and RCX come in. The two organizations will be supporting the NAIA in creating the infrastructure for what is supposed to be the first women’s flag football competition governed by a collegiate athletics association.
Russell Wilson was recently named chairman of NFL Flag and told CNN, “Partnering up with the NFL, NFL Flag, and RCX, it’s really exciting… Football is gonna be a worldwide sport and it should be a great sport for women, and for them to be leaders in the sport. And I think what’s great about this, that we’re expanding not only the game, but also the access for all women in all sports. And I think this is really exciting. This is revolutionary.”
The next step for the sport would be to graduate from “emerging” to “invitational” status. That step requires 25 schools to declare such intent. After that is actually becoming a championship sport, which requires a minimum of 40 schools and final approval from the NAIA. Each school that has declared intent has been given a $15,000 stipend that’s supposed to help these teams get created.