USM to add flag football

LEAVENWORTH — The University of Saint Mary has become the third member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to add women’s flag football to begin play in the spring of 2021.

The Spires join Ottawa and Kansas Wesleyan in offering the sport, which arose from an initiative between the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Football League.

"We are looking forward to adding this new women's sport on campus," USM vice president of athletics Rob Miller said. "Increasing opportunities for students to participate in collegiate athletics has been critically important to our growth as an institution and our vibrancy as a campus community."

The sport will be the 22nd offered by USM.

"Football is for everyone," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said. "This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America."

The NAIA will host a showcase open to female football athletes this fall.

The NAIA will hold either an emerging sport championship in 2022 if at least 15 members participate or an invitational championship if at least 25 members sponsor the sport.

The NAIA will sanction the sport if at least 40 members sponsor the sport.

ECHL approves new ownership

PRINCETON, N.J. — The ECHL Board of Governors has approved the transfer of ownership of both the Rapid City Rush and Greenville Swamp Rabbits to Spire Sports and Entertainment.

Spire Sports and Entertainment is based out of Charlotte, N.C., and has "decades of collective experience in brand consulting, celebrity representation and career management, business development, sponsorship placement and program management, event activation, hospitality, media relations, social media support and strategic consulting."

Spire Sports held a minority ownership interest in the Rapid City franchise during the 2019-20 season.

"For over a year now, Spire Sports + Entertainment has been a welcome part of the ECHL, and their impact and experience have been valuable assets in Rapid City and to the League," said Ryan Crelin, Commissioner of the ECHL. "On behalf of the ECHL, I’d like to thank Scott Mueller in Rapid City and Doug Heinzer and the existing ownership in Greenville for their commitment to hockey in those respective markets and making this transition possible, as we welcome a larger presence from Spire Sports and their talented team of personnel to further grow the ECHL fanbase in these two markets."

The Wichita Thunder hockey team is a member of the ECHL, which shares a common ownership with the the Tulsa Oilers (the Steven family of Wichita).