Courtesy of Davenport Sports Information
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Davenport University athletics has announced that Charles "Sparky" McEwen will be the new head football coach effective immediately. McEwen was chosen out of a pool of over 100 candidates nationwide to take over a football program that will be breaking new ground this fall as a member of NCAA Division II and the formidable Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
McEwen has spent the last five seasons at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich. He has served as passing game coordinator, receivers coach, pro liaison and alumni relations liaison during his tenure with the Bulldogs. He helped guide Ferris State to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons as a member of NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The team posted a 28-game regular season win streak from 2013-2016. The Bulldogs made a NCAA Division II semifinal appearance in 2016 including a 47-32 quarterfinal win over Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich.
McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Rampage and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz.
"Words cannot express how excited I am to be joining the Davenport University family! Thank you to Mr. Lowden, his athletic department staff, and Dr. Pappas for giving me this opportunity and bringing college football to Grand Rapids," said McEwen. "I greatly appreciate all of the effort that has been put into the program to date. We have a lot of work to do as we venture into the toughest conference in the nation, but I am ready for the challenges ahead. We have a talented group of coaches and young players who are ready to make an impact in the GLIAC. Davenport University has a rich tradition of athletic and academic success and I look forward to carrying on that same winning tradition throughout the Panther football program. I guarantee that as a team, we will give all that we have to be successful! My primary focus is the development of young men both on and off the field. We will abide by a winning philosophy on the field, in the classroom and in the community. We will make Davenport University, our fans, alumni and the city of Grand Rapids proud!"
At the professional level, McEwen coached the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz for three seasons prior to the franchise's departure from the AFL prior to the 2011 campaign.
McEwen began his arena football career as a quarterback with the now-defunct Grand Rapids Rampage in 1998 and first served as the team's offensive assistant and scout in 2000. He was the offensive coordinator from 2001-03 before originally becoming assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in Oklahoma City in 2004.
He returned to Grand Rapids as head coach and director of football operations of the Rampage for three seasons (2005-08) before going back to Oklahoma City as the head coach and president of football operations for his final three seasons of indoor football, which included two as an arenafootball2 franchise and the final year in the AFL.
"We are excited to welcome Sparky McEwen as our new head football coach at Davenport University. Sparky's skill set, experience and values will be a great asset to our football program as we move into competition in NCAA Division II and the GLIAC this fall," said athletic director Paul Lowden.
McEwen was the Rampage's offensive coordinator during the program's three best seasons from 2001-03, which included winning ArenaBowl XV in 2001. Under his direction, the Rampage's offense scored more points than any other team in the Arena Football League and gained more yards over the three-year span.
McEwen also served as a successful high football head coach in Grand Rapids at Creston High School from 1996-2003.
The DU football program recently concluded its first year of competition in the NAIA and posted a 6-5 record. The team defeated a pair of NCAA Division II schools this past fall including Kentucky Wesleyan (41-7) on Sept. 17 and Quincy (14-10) on Oct. 22. Davenport ranked second in the NAIA in kickoff return average (26.6), third in rushing defense (85.9), fifth in total defense (270.2), eighth in scoring defense (17.5), 12th in opponent third down conversions (31.2) and 17th in total sacks (25) in 2016.
About Davenport University
Founded in 1866, Davenport is a private, non-profit university serving nearly 8,000 students at campuses across Michigan and online. With tuition among the lowest of all private universities in the state, Davenport provides high academic quality, small class sizes, conveniently located campuses, faculty with real-world experience, and more than 80 dynamic undergraduate and graduate programs addressing in-demand careers in business, technology, health professions and urban education. More information is available at www.davenport.edu.