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Cardinals Football

“This is the next step in the growth of Incarnate Word athletics .”

- Mark Papich
UIW Director of Athletics

UIW is rushing toward the end zone as it embarks on its latest athletic venture … football.

This spring, the university announced plans to establish the first NCAA Division II scholarship football program in the area. Today, the Cardinals have what they need to begin lining up for football in the fall of 2009 -- funding, plans to build a football complex, fans in waiting, and now, a head coach.

Longtime university supporter and ardent sports enthusiast, Tom Benson, will underwrite the comprehensive facility to begin construction this year. The 3,000-seat facility will be known as the Gayle and Tom Benson Fieldhouse.

“All of us in the Incarnate Word community are grateful to Gayle and Tom Benson for their generosity,” says President Dr. Louis J. Agnese, Jr. “Football at Incarnate Word is one of the most important endeavors we've ever undertaken. It would have been impossible without the support of the Benson family.”

Tom Benson with President Agnese“Sports is an important element in the development of our young people and we are honored to have our names associated with this project.”
-- Tom Benson, New Orleans Saints owner and UIW benefactor (pictured with President Agnese at a press conference to announce the program)

The new football program fits within the university's Mission to provide a total experience for students. UIW's athletic programs are near full circle with 19 teams representing 12 different sports, more than any other NCAA Division II school in the state.

UIW Football Timeline

April 2007
Cardinals football program and funding for facility is announced.
Search begins for head football coach.

June 2007
Michael Santiago is named head coach of Football Cardinals.
Search begins for two assistant coaches.

Summer 2007
Construction begins on new football facility.
Recruiting begins for first players.

Head Coach Michael Santiago

UIW head football coach, Michael Santiago.

Spring 2008
Search will begin
for remainder of
football staff.
First Cardinal players will be signed.

August 2008
First group of Cardinal players will enroll in

Spring 2009
Second group of Cardinal players will be signed.

August 2009
Pre-season play will begin for inaugural season.

September 2009
First-ever UIW Cardinals football game.