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Karin Van Dyke, Vice President for University Relations (906) 487-7361

Chris Salani, Director of Athletics (906) 487-7378

Finlandia to Launch Football as part of 7-year Athletics Expansion

(Hancock, MI) Finlandia University is taking another important step toward a campus growth agenda by announcing a search for a head football coach to lead off a series of new NCAA Division III sport offerings at the Hancock campus.

The expansion of NCAA Division III Athletics is an integral component of an emerging 7-year Strategic Plan at Finlandia University. The University is making a commitment to launch 7 new NCAA Division III sports programs over the next seven years as part of implementing its new strategic plan. The search for a head football coach will serve as the lead action.

The football coach hire also belongs to a larger commitment to secure affiliation in an established NCAA Division III athletics conference. Finlandia’s administration believes general affiliation in an established athletics conference is necessary for offering the academic and athletic benefits its student-athletes deserve.

A window of opportunity for application the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC), soon may be opening according the Finlandia Director of Athletics, Chris Salani.
“As we’ve worked with the UMAC Conference Officers over the last several years in efforts to gain general conference affiliation, the Conference more recently has identified their own strategic plans which will allow Finlandia to strategically align our new sport offerings to that of the Conference’s membership criterion. Our long term planning and now execution of, and in concert with the UMAC’s growth model, presents the perfect opportunity for us to become a viable member of the regional conference.”

Building on the past and planned new investments in Campus growth, Finlandia aims to achieve new levels of enrollment growth, quality and diversity. NCAA Divison III program growth is crucial for achieving these goals that, in turn, serve a deeper purpose. On a mission-driven level, Finlandia seeks to offer programs, services, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences to accompany the whole student toward a whole life; advancing relationship-driven, holistic, and transformative higher education for a growing number of men and women from the Upper Peninsula and beyond.

This plan calls for Finlandia to achieve historic levels of matriculation, quality, and diversity as an extension of past and continuing investments in campus and enrollment growth.

As Finlandia President Philip Johnson stated, “I am convinced that growing our NCAA Division III programs reaps benefits for all our students, our entire Campus community. It is good for all of Finlandia. It is good for the Copper Country. It is good for the Upper Peninsula. So let’s do some good.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the head football coach position, with a preference given to those received by March 24th. Finlandia’s goal is to have the hiring process completed by mid-April.

The initial year of the football program will include the development of structural and operating elements of the program, its first two official recruiting classes, and an allowable spring practice in 2015. With a roster target of 70 by the fall of 2015, the Lions will begin Varsity competition.

“We’re excited,” stated Salani. “This has been our goal since the first Phase of development began with McAfee Field. And now, in Phase II, we are seeing all of our efforts and planning come to fruition.”