LIVONIA, Mich. – Madonna University President Michael Grandillo announced today that the University will be expanding its intercollegiate athletics program by eight sports, bringing the Crusaders’ roster to 19 teams. Madonna will add:
• men’s and women’s bowling
• men’s and women’s lacrosse
• men’s and women’s indoor track and field
• men’s and women’s outdoor track and field
According to President Grandillo the addition of these sports will increase enrollment, while enhancing the sense of community on campus. “I look forward to working with our fine athletics staff and coaches to build upon their winnings ways, as we provide greater opportunities for students to compete in the sports they love, while they pursue their academic goals,” said Grandillo. “Participation in athletics and student organizations enriches the college experience, which is why we are proud to offer Madonna students more choices for learning outside the classroom.”
Madonna University competes in the 12-school Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The addition of these eight sports marks the first new teams added at Madonna since 2005, when men’s and women’s cross country brought the total to 11 teams.
These additional sports have been in the planning stages for a number of years as evidenced by the installation of men’s and women’s lacrosse lines during the construction of the University’s synthetic turf field, at the Madonna Athletic Complex. Athletics Director Bryan Rizzo, who has begun recruiting coaches and athletes for these sports, said that for bowling as well as track and field, the University plans to develop partnerships with bowling and track facilities in the local community.
Rizzo said that the time is right for Madonna University to begin these sports that continue to gain popularity. The teams may begin as club programs before reaching varsity status to enable proper growth and development of quality teams, he explained. In total, an enrollment growth of 100-200 students should be accomplished over the implementation period for all eight sports.
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 a 3.0, including the 2014-15 school year, when the Crusaders recorded a 3.32 department GPA.
• Over the last 10 years the number of boy’s high school programs grew from roughly 1,400 to over 2,000.
• The number of girl’s high school bowling programs has seen similar growth nationally with more than 2,000.
• More than 350 Michigan high schools offer boy’s and girl’s bowling.
• The WHAC was the first NAIA conference to offer a league title in bowling, in 2012.
• Seven WHAC schools offer bowling.
• 41 NAIA schools compete in men’s and women’s bowling.
• Initially each bowling team will consist of eight student-athletes with potential expansion to more than 20 per team.
• According to the latest survey conducted by US Lacrosse, the number of boys playing the sport at the high school level has grown from 97,000 in 2006 to nearly 170,000 in 2013.
• In the same US Lacrosse survey, the number of girls playing the sport doubled from 65,000 in 2006 to nearly 121,000 in 2013.
• The number of boy’s high school teams has doubled in the last 10 years nationally to over 2,500, while the number of girl’s teams has surpassed 2,300. Michigan saw an 18 percent growth in the total number of players from 2009-13.
• The WHAC was the first NAIA league to sponsor lacrosse as a conference sport with championships in 2012. Currently six WHAC schools offer men’s and women’s lacrosse.
• On the national level, lacrosse is in the “invitational” stage within the NAIA, meaning that both sports are in the process to become fully sanctioned by the NAIA and could hold a national championship as early as the 2017-18 school year.
• Initially each team will consist of approximately 25 players, with potential to grow to more than 40 on each roster.
Track and Field Facts
• As of the 2013-14 school year, track and field was the second most popular high school sport in terms of participants according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
• In Michigan, more than 600 high schools offer boy’s and girl’s track and field programs.
• The WHAC has sponsored track and field championships since its inception in 1992, and seven league schools currently offer the sport.
• The NAIA has sponsored a national championship in track and field since 1951.
• Nearly 140 NAIA schools sponsor track and field both indoors and outdoors.
• Generally, new track and field team rosters include approximately 20 male and 20 female student-athletes and could grow to more than 75 on each team.
About Crusader Athletics: Madonna University currently sponsors the sports of baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball 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, science and mathematics, social sciences, education, and nursing and health, as well as the School of Business and the Graduate School. Michigan’s most affordable, independent, Catholic university, Madonna welcomes students from diverse backgrounds.
Bryan Rizzo, athletics director
Karen Sanborn, director of marketing