CMU signs college football female to scholarship
FAYETTE - Central Methodist University is making history this week by signing the first ever non-kicker female football player.
Toni Harris, a 5’7” 164-pound free safety, is originally from Detroit. She played her last two seasons at East Los Angeles Community College.
Harris first came into the spotlight earlier this month with her appearance in a Super Bowl commercial for Toyota.
"We're excited about the opportunity to have her here as a student leader and certainly as a student athlete," said CMU's Vice President of Enrollment Management, Joe Parisi.
CMU student, Keaton Denney, said he believes having Harris on campus will, "make the campus more lively and bring a great atmosphere to our school."
But while Harris' commitment to CMU might have been historic because of her gender, Parisi says that had no effect on how she was recruited.
"There was no step for him (CMU Coach David Calloway), there was no contemplation, there was no, 'Hey, is this ok to do?' He just did it as he would any student," says Parisi.
Unfortunately, this was not how Harris is used to being treated.
Harris told ESPN she has started playing football at a young age, but was forced off the team because she was a girl. Despite this setback, she eventually found her way back to the field at Redford Union High School in Michigan.
In the interview with ESPN, Harris said, "A lot of coaches didn't believe in me," and that, "A coach told me nobody's ever going to play you to be at the next level."
"The reason that she chose CMU over many of the other schools was because the admissions office stayed in great contact and truly showed that they cared about her future. It was because Coach Calloway stayed in great contact and truly showed that he cared about his student athletes," says Parisi.
According to Parisi, the university's main concern is to ensure Harris (along with the rest of their students) is put in the best possible position to succeed and believes that the "progressive atmosphere" they have at CMU is what makes it the perfect place for this kind of historic event.