Is Liberty's Football Bid an Evangelical Hail Mary Pass?
Image: Peyton Williams / NCSU / Getty
Is Liberty's Football Bid an Evangelical Hail Mary Pass?

Liberty University, the nation's largest Christian school, wants an invitation to move up to the highest level of college football.

University administrators have spent millions of dollars building a football program intended to compete within the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A. The school hopes to imitatethe bump Catholics have enjoyed from Notre Dame, which will play in this year's national championship game on Jan. 7.

Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor and president of Liberty, says he has a responsibility to donors and alumni to build a top-notch football program. The Liberty Flames have won five Big South titles in the past six years. They joined the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA, in 2002. To join the Football Bowl Subdivision, schools must commit to fund 85 sports scholarships — a jump from the 63 required by the Football Championship Subdivision — and average home attendance of 15,000 for two years. They must also increase travel and recruitment budgets. After that, an individual conference, such as the Big 10 or PAC-12, must invite a school to join. Games at the Football Bowl level bring in significantly more money for their teams than games at the Football Championship level.

"This investment will pay dividends for generations because it will shine a light on our core mission to train champions for Christ like nothing else can," Falwell said. "We see top-tier college athletics as a mission field."

Pursuit of a national-level football team, which would give the school greater visibility to spread its faith-based message and mission, is just part of Liberty's pursuit of growth and name recognition, Falwell said. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueCambodia’s Child Sex Industry Is Dwindling—And They Have Christians to Thank
Cambodia’s Child Sex Industry Is Dwindling—And They Have Christians to Thank Subscriber Access Only
From rescues to legal reform, a faithful minority changed the country’s criminal landscape.
RecommendedTrump to Liberty Grads: Outsiders Change the World
Trump to Liberty Grads: Outsiders Change the World
Most white evangelicals are happy with the leader Jerry Falwell Jr. calls their ‘dream president.’
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
Is Liberty's Football Bid an Evangelical Hail Mary Pass?
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

December 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.