A record 775 colleges and universities either will offer football or plan to in the future, according to data compiled by the National Football Foundation.
Thirty-seven programs have joined the sport over the past six years, including four this season:
-- Clarke University (Dubuque, Iowa): NAIA, Heart of America Athletic Conference, head coach Miguel Regalado
-- Franklin Pierce University (Rindge, N.H.): NCAA Division II, Northeast-10 Conference, head coach Russell Gaskamp
-- St. Thomas University (Miami Gardens, Fla.): NAIA, Mid-South Conference, head coach Bill Rychel
-- Wheeling Jesuit University (Wheeling, W.V.): NCAA Division II, Mountain East Conference, head coach Zac Bruney
Seven more programs plan to launch in 2020 and beyond:
-- Barton College (Wilson, N.C.): NCAA Division II, Independent, head coach Chip Hester, launching 2020
-- Erskine College (Due West, S.C.): NCAA Division II, Conference TBD, head coach Shap Boyd, launching 2020
-- Florida Memorial University (Miami Gardens, Fla.): NAIA, Conference TBD, head coach TBA, launching 2020
-- Keystone College (La Plume, Pa.): NCAA Division III, Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, head coach Matthew Grimaldi, launching 2020
-- Madonna University (Livonia, Mich.): NAIA, Independent, head coach Brian Foos, launching 2020, joining Mid-States Football Association in 2021
-- Judson University (Elgin, Ill.): NAIA, Mid-States Football Association, head coach Brandon New, launching 2021
-- Mount Marty College (Yankton, S.D.): NAIA, Great Plains Athletic Conference, head coach TBA
The number of schools playing NCAA football has risen steadily, from 484 in 1978 to 669 in 2018, a 38 percent increase.
"Football has the opportunity to be a driving force for our department moving forward," Madonna AD Scott Kennell said in a press release announcing his school's program. "It is a great way for us to build a larger community fan base for Madonna Athletics and can lead to other opportunities for students such as cheerleading, competitive dance and a marching band – all of which, we are currently looking into…This will be a wonderful experience not only for the student-athletes who come here to continue their education and compete on the Intercollegiate level, but also for our entire student body, alumni and Livonia Community as a whole. Football is going to bring visibility to our campus, and in return, enhance the University and the local communities."