September 14, 2009

Finlandia adding football in 2012

Finlandia University is in Hancock, Mich., up on the state's upper peninsula and miles from the rest of Division III.
Finlandia University photo; Google Maps

Finlandia, a Division III school in the upper peninsula of Michigan, is adding football in 2012, D3sports.com has learned.

The school, which was known for many years as Suomi College, has 464 full-time undergraduates as of its last report to the U.S. Department of Education, but could boost that significantly with one class of football players.

"A school that starts football tends to bring out between 80 and 120 freshmen for the first year," D3sports.com executive editor Pat Coleman recently told the Associated Press. "You have to look at the bottom line, in Division III, everybody's paying tuition -- they're getting whatever they're getting in financial aid, but the school isn't giving scholarships. So that money goes to the bottom line.

"A lot of kids who play that first year don't play all four years. Usually that graduating class that comes in at 120 ends up at about 20-25. But a lot of the kids stay at the school."

Boosting enrollment is the driver behind a plan the school recently announced with the city of Hancock, Mich., where Finlandia will offer free tuition for the next 12 years to admitted graduates of Hancock Central High School in exchange for city school facilities, most notably a former middle school building.

"As part of this whole process we have two strategic priorities for the institution," said Finlandia's athletic director, Chris Salani. "First is the conversion of the middle school to college of health sciences building, and second is use of the athletic fields.

"Football is actually going to be a capstone program for us over the next three years."

The school plans to hire a coach early in 2011 in order to prepare to take the field with a varsity program in 2012.

Finlandia is geographically isolated from other Division III institutions. The closest school with football is St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minn., a four-hour drive or 217 miles. St. Norbert is 220 miles, UW-Stevens Point is 221 miles, Lawrence is 241 miles and UW-Oshkosh is 261. The school is an independent in most sports but hopes football will help it gain conference affiliation.

"We've identified two viable options from a Finlandia standpoint, one being the UMAC and the other being the Northern Athletics Conference," Salani told D3sports.com. "We have approached both entities previously on the idea of affiliation and throughout that process either the timing wasn't correct or the programming correct for either entity."

The school already meets future Division III standards for sports sponsorship, which is 10 varsity sports for schools with fewer than 1,000 full-time students, or 12 for larger schools. But football isn't the only sport on the docket. Finlandia is adding women's tennis and golf, reviving its suspended nordic skiing program and looking at men's volleyball and wrestling.

"We have schools where there's a recruiting pool available," Salani said in referencing wrestling. "Perhaps we would be a niche program in the area, plus that may give us another conference affiliation opportunity.

Like at many Division III schools, "athletics programs are being supported to help drive enrollment," Salani said. "At the end of this process, roughly 35,  possibly 40 percent of 800 students will be student-athletes."

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Marietta at Denison
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos