Athletic Director Dr. Tom Smith and Missouri Baptist President Dr. Alton Lacey introduce Jason Burianek as the school's first football coach. (MBU Photo)

Missouri Baptist University officially launched football on Tuesday in a press conference held on the Creve Coeur campus. With the addition, the University will become the first and only NAIA institution to support football in St. Louis.

Missouri Baptist University officially launched football on Tuesday in a press conference held on the Creve Coeur campus. With the addition, the University will become the first and only NAIA institution to support football in St. Louis.

Missouri Baptist also announced the hiring of Jason Burianek, the former defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at McKendree University. This will be his first stint as a head coach in his career.

Burianek came with a wealth of playing experience, in addition to years spent as both a position coach and as a coordinator. He played college football as a wide receiver at the University of Colorado under Rich Neuheisel in his freshman year and then under Gary Barnett for the remainder of college career.

After graduation, Burianek spent a few months as a graduate assistant under Barnett. Just months later, he became a member of the McKendree University coaching staff.

“Playing at the division I level has allowed me the opportunity to learn from some great coaches and develop friendships with some great people that have had the opportunity to play at the professional level,” said Burianek

Burianek will not only have his first opportunity to lead a program, but will spend over a year building a program from the ground-up. His plan: to primarily recruit from the 60-mile radius of St. Louis.

“I want to get to know the inner workings of the University and the community as well as getting to know the coaches in the St. Louis area,” said the new coach. “There are many great high school coaches in the area that will be critical in helping us recruit the great athletes here.”

The Missouri Baptist University Department of Athletics plans to only scrimmage in the fall of 2013 with a recruitment class of about 30 student-athletes. In 2014, the team will begin play in the NAIA.

“I think we really did our homework in the hiring process,” said Dr. Tom Smith, Director of Athletics at Missouri Baptist. “Jason is a Missouri Baptist kind of guy.”

Over the course of the next year and a half, Missouri Baptist expects to recruit over 100 new student-athletes for football alone. That number increases significantly with plans to expand the current cheerleading program, along with the creation of a pep band.

The University is in a season of prolonged growth. Enrollment of traditional students on MBU’s main campus has increased by nearly 20 percent in the past four years, and the residential population has increased more than 40 percent in the same span of time, according to Terry Dale Cruse, vice president of enrollment services. Last year, the University opened its state-of-art Sports and Recreation Complex, a 49,000 square foot facility that includes a 1,000 seat gymnasium, a suspended indoor track, state-of-the-art training and fitness centers and new classrooms. Currently, the second phase of “Spartan Village,” a residential neighborhood, is underway, which will increase housing capacity by about 45 percent. Current on-campus housing is filled to 100 percent capacity and the new residence hall is expected to fill quickly, especially with the expected influx of new student-athletes.

MBU has reached an agreement with CBC High School to play all home games on its West St. Louis County neighbor’s field. The two schools currently share facilities on an ongoing basis, a relationship that has evolved over the years.

In 2014, the University will begin to play NAIA games. Tuesday’s announcement is just the first step as plans are still being made on conference affiliation. Currently, 81 NAIA institutions support football programs.

“It is a great opportunity to begin my coaching career at MBU. It is a great fit for me personally being in a great location and a school that is committed to athletics and being successful,” said Burianek.

Missouri Baptist is currently a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), which doesn’t support football. The University, however, reaffirmed its commitment to the AMC on Tuesday stating that there are no plans to leave and that the AMC is its home. “We have enjoyed a great relationship with the AMC and changing conference affiliation does not make much sense for us,” Smith said.