William Woods University announced Monday the addition of two new sports programs -- men's intercollegiate football and women's flag football.
This is the first time in the 153 year history of the Woods that football will be offered.
Men's intercollegiate football will begin in the fall of 2024, with women's flag football following for the 2025 season.
WWU president Jeremy Moreland said this announcement is "a moment in time that will always stand out."
"We are not only adding the biggest sport in all of college athletics, men's intercollegiate football, but we're also adding the rapidly growing sport of women's flag football, all set to begin in the 24-25 academic year," he said.
Including the two football programs, seven new varsity sports have been added to the university's offerings in the past 18 months.
Moreland said he was very excited to announce the addition of the programs. He said the additions serve as a response to the community, who wanted more ways to get engaged with the university.
"It's really going to be exciting to be able to bring the community together to be here on campus -- Fultonians, Callawegians and Missourians from beyond will be able to come and help celebrate football here on campus," Moreland said.
He said the addition of football has been a long-term goal for the university, and he was excited to surprise the community with the announcement.
Jim Hagale, member of WWU's board of trustees, said it was an honor to be part of this announcement.
He said the new football programs will bring lots of energy to the entire community.
Football in the fall will serve as a touch point for new students at WWU, Hagale said.
"It's an exciting time to be an Owl, so I say let the tailgating begin," he added.
Steve Wilson, director of athletics, said it opens up new resources for the entire athletic department. He added that new facilities and new opportunities will come from the football programs.
The athletic department at WWU is evaluated by four pillars -- athletic success, academic success, social success and financial success.
"I've been here for four months. I am proud of what we're doing, proud of what we've done and I'm so ready for the fall of 24, spring of 25," Wilson said.
He said the new programs will serve as another point of pride for the university. He added that the programs will bring a lot of fun to the campus.
Women's flag football was offered at a previous institution Wilson coached at.
"It's something that folks out here haven't seen, but they wanna see," he said.
The big difference between the two programs will be the roster size. Wilson said there will 90-120 members on the men's team, while the roster for a women's flag football team is around 25 members.
Women's flag football is seven versus seven on a field that is 40 yards wide and 80 yards long, he added.
"It's very different, but the games compliment each other," Wilson said.
The recruitment process for both teams began Monday. WWU is conducting a nationwide search for head coaches. The head coaches will be finalized in mid-June, Wilson said.
The university is currently evaluating the soccer facilities to determine if football could be played there. The field will be turf, with bids opening soon.
Wilson said the field is going to be completed in "stages."
"I would say over the next five years, as you look at that field, it will look different every fall," he said.
WWU is a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC). This conference does not sponsor football.
In a release, the university stated "there are no plans to leave the AMC as the Owls' primary conference."