Knights Athletic History

Originally a teacher training school formed in 1851 by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, St. Francis Normal School became a four-year state-approved institution in 1936. During that year, it merged with Immaculate Conception Junior College to form Marian College. In late 1936, the Sisters of St. Francis purchased the former James Allison estate, "Riverdale," as a site for Marian College. In 1937, the college moved to Indianapolis after securing a state charter and the purchase of the Allison estate, home to the famed Allison Mansion.


While athletics was not established until the institution became co-educational in 1954-55, the Department of Physical Education mandated, in 1940, a one-year sports participation requirement for women to graduate. By 1943, sports clubs began to form, offering a variety of choices for women. Swimming, ice skating, horseback riding, archery, and tennis were mainstays and led to the Marian College Student Athletic Association and its annual "play day." In 1948, the college began an expansion program that included the building of Clare Hall, the original gymnasium, and Marian Hall. In 1954, the school became the first co-educational Catholic college in Indiana and, with the development of the co-ed institution, varsity athletics were introduced.
1954-55 Men's Basketball Team

The Marian College Department of Athletics was born with the sport of men's basketball being the first official varsity sport on campus in 1954-55. A member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Knights opened that first season with a 3-8 overall record. Through the end of the 1950s, Marian College added the sports of baseball (1956), men's golf (1957), men's tennis (1958), and men's cross country (1960). Marian College athletics, under the guidance of the first athletic director and men's basketball coach, Walt Fields, flourished with its five sports. Cleon Reynolds assumed control of the department in 1963 and governed athletics until Ed Schilling assumed control for five years. Marian College added just one sport in the 1970s, women's volleyball, and stayed stagnant until 1975-76 when head basketball coach and athletic director John Grimes took control of the department.


Cleon Reynolds became
Director of Athletics in 1963.

Coach Grimes' 26-year tenure as athletic director saw the athletic department expand from five to 17 sports and join the Mid-Central College Conference in Indiana in 1988-89. In addition, Grimes led Knights basketball to three NAIA national tournaments and three MCC championships. Coach Grimes retired from his athletic director duties in 2005 after earning the distinction of NAIA Region VIII Athletic Director of the Year. A new era was established due to his diligence as Marian College hired its first full-time athletic director in 2005-06.
Joe Haklin assumed control of Knights athletics in 2005-06 and oversaw the development of the football program. He provided sound governance over Marian College's 20 varsity sports, and he made great contributions during his tenure. He was an essential figure in the development of the Physical Education Center expansion in 2006-07 and St.Vincent Health Field at Marian College, which is a multi-purpose facility that includes an artificial playing surface, an eight-lane track as well as the development of the new varsity softball field and tennis courts.

In addition, the Marian College Board of Trustees approved a plan to expand the department of athletics by adding the sport of men's and women's bowling as the 20th and 21st varsity sports at Marian College. The teams began competing in the fall of 2010. Since then, Marian has also added women's lacrosse and men's wrestling under Steve Downing. Downing took over as athletic director in 2011 
On July 1, 2009, Marian College became Marian University. Marian University is on the move and making history.