Women's flag football will become a varsity sport for NAIA schools by next year, the organization announced Monday.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has secured a two-year partnership with the NFL and its NFL FLAG arm, and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX). The NAIA will develop league infrastructure and operations for the first women's flag football competition governed by a collegiate athletics association.
"Football is for everyone," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said. "This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America."
The NAIA will host its first showcase open to female football athletes in late summer or early fall. The first competitive season will be held next spring, and the NAIA will host an emerging sport or invitational championship in the spring of 2022. An emerging sport in the NAIA is defined as at least 15 participating institutions, while an invitational is at least 25. A sport must have a minimum of 40 participating schools to be considered for full championship status.
"Increasing female participation in flag football has been a top priority for NFL FLAG," said Izell Reese, the president and general manager for RCX. "By teaming up with the NAIA, we're able to create even more opportunities for young women to continue the sport they love, and potentially receive scholarships to continue their education and compete at the next level."