The Ball State Cardinals football team is a college football program representing Ball State University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football. Mike Neu is the current head coach. Ball State plays its home games on Scheumann Stadium on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The Cardinals compete in the Mid-American Conference as a member of the West Division.
The Cardinals have a 421–381–32 record, which ranks below the top 50 most victories among NCAA FBS programs. Ball State was originally classified as a teacher's college, participating in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) from 1937 until 1956. In 1957, they were classified as a Small College school until 1972. Ball State received Division II classification in 1973, before becoming a Division I-AA program in 1975 and a Division I-A (now FBS) program in 1981, dropping to Division I-AA for a single season (1982) before returning to Division I-A.
The Scheumann Stadium, formerly known as the Ball State Stadium, is in Muncie, Indiana. It is primarily used for football, and it is the home field of the Ball State University Cardinals. The stadium opened in 1967, and it has a capacity of 22,500 for football games.
Anticipating rapid growth after transitioning from a teacher's college to a large state school, the Ball State University Board of Trustees approved construction of a new athletic stadium one mile north of campus in 1965. The stadium was completed in 1967 with a capacity of 16,000 for football. It replaced the previous stadium closer to campus, on University Avenue across from Ball Memorial Hospital. The site is now used as a band practice field. A grandstand on the south end of the stadium was added in the 1990s, increasing the capacity to 22,500. In 2005, the stadium was renamed after Ball State alumni and benefactors John B. and June M. Scheumann.
In 2007, the stadium completed a $13 million renovation. Planned improvements included new lighting for night games, enclosing the north end zone with lawn seating to create a 22,500-seat horseshoe-shaped venue, new concession stands, a facade update using brick, a larger press box, and private luxury suites. On August 29, 2013, a new video board was installed. Another video board was installed at Worthen Arena.
For a time, notable Ball State alumnus David Letterman jokingly campaigned via his television program to have the stadium named for him. When the naming was given to the Scheumanns for their donations to the university, the mayor of nearby Indianapolis (Letterman's childhood home), Bart Peterson joked that the city would rename the I-465 Beltway as the "David Letterman Expressway".
Mean game attendance at the stadium was at its highest in school history in 2008, with an average of about 21,000 visitors per game. This can be attributed to the team's success, as well as recent renovations to the stadium. A school record 10,546 students attended the September 6, 2008 game versus the Navy Midshipmen. The game was televised nationally on ESPN, and Ball State won, 35–23. The all-time record attendance for a game at Scheumann Stadium is 23,861, set on November 25, 2008 when Ball State completed an undefeated regular season by beating MAC rival Western Michigan. The Cardinals won handily, 45–22, pushing their record to 12–0, but they lost to Buffalo in the MAC championship game and to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl.