After a hiatus of 70 years, Lawrence Technological University will again field a football team and has hired a coach, Jeff Duvendeck, who will lead efforts to build a team that will begin competing in the 2018 season.
Duvendeck, most recently the head coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., will begin student recruiting activities immediately.
Lawrence Tech expects to attract students with strong scholastic aptitude who also enjoy the competition, discipline, and camaraderie of intercollegiate athletics. The 4,500-student private university reinstituted athletics in 2011 and now fields 24 men’s and/or women’s teams in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, golf, tennis, bowling, baseball, softball, volleyball, and cross country.
LTU is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC), and the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC). LTU intends to compete in football as an independent program in 2018, and join the Mid-States Football Association of the NAIA in the fall of 2019.
“We anticipate that we will continue to attract strong scholars to our new football program,” said Virinder K. Moudgil, Lawrence Tech’s president. “Indeed, when we examine the GPA’s earned by our current student athletes, they are consistently higher than the GPA’s of our overall student population.”
Moudgil added that the University’s Strategic Plan, adopted last year, with input from the entire campus community, calls for LTU’s continued transition to a more residential environment. “As a result we need to provide more opportunities for an active student life and recreation,” he said.
Southfield Mayor Ken Siver was enthusiastic about LTU’s move, which both he and the university expect to bring a substantial and steady stream of new athletes, their families, friends, alumni, and other guests to the city. “The City of Southfield is very excited to have a university football team in our city,” Siver said. “Go Blue Devils!”
A 2015 study from the prestigious Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Technological University fifth in the country for providing the most value-added in preparing its graduates for well-paying occupations. College ranking agencies consistently praise the University’s accredited programs in engineering, architecture, design, and management.
Duvendeck, the new coach, spent six seasons as head coach at Culver-Stockton. Prior to that, he spent two years as offensive graduate assistant under Mark Dantonio at Michigan State University. In 2006-09, he was offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Northern Michigan University. Under his direction, the NMU offense averaged almost 32 points a game in 2009 and 28 points a game in 2008. Earlier posts included offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Michigan Technological University (2003-05), graduate assistant at Grand Valley State University (2002) and graduate assistant at Tiffin (Ohio) University (2001).
A native of Flushing, Duvendeck played running back at Central Michigan University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and rehabilitation in 2001. He earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from Michigan State University in 2016.
This past summer, Lawrence Tech added a $1 million AstroTurf multi-sport playing field, the gift of an anonymous donor. Adding stadium and player amenities are expected to be part of a new capital campaign, planning for which is underway. The university completed its most recent capital campaign in June, exceeding its $100 million goal by more than 25 percent. The campaign provided funds to expand scholarships, build new academic facilities, and grow the university’s endowment.
Lawrence Tech offered football when it was founded in 1932 and fielded teams until the outset of World War II, when most students and faculty dropped out to take combat roles or to support the region’s emergence in manufacturing as the “Arsenal of Democracy.” A football team reformed after the war for a year but student interest had waned, and the sport was discontinued.
At a time when some higher education institutions are engaged in conversations about football’s costs and health-related concerns, Lawrence Tech expects to address these issues and build a successful program.
“The NAIA members are much more diligent in containing costs and stressing scholarship,” said Kevin Finn, LTU’s dean of students. “And it is our intention to meet or exceed all applicable safety and conditioning procedures to insure the health and well-being of our players.”