DIVISION II FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP TO STAY IN THE SHOALS
FLORENCE, Alabama -- Monday, July 06, 2009 -- The NCAA officially announced Monday that the Division II Football Championship Game will continue to be played in the Shoals through 2011 with a two-year contract extension.
The Shoals has hosted the Division II Football Championship since 1986 and is set to host the game for the 24th consecutive year on December 12, 2009. But, for the first time in recent years, the NCAA accepted bids for other sites for the 2010 and 2011 games, leaving the future of the game in the Shoals in doubt.
The 23 years that the game has been in Florence is the second longest period that any NCAA championship has remained at one site. The only other championship that has been at the same site longer is Division I baseball, which has been played in Omaha, Neb., since 1950.
The game moved to Florence in 1986, after five years in McAllen, Texas. North Alabama played in that 1985 title game but lost to North Dakota State 35-7. The fans of North Alabama were successful, however, in making a successful bid to move the game to Florence the following year.
Two thirds of the 37 all-time Division II Championship Games have been played in the Shoals.
Representatives of both the Shoals National Championship Committee (SNCC), the local host organization for the game, and the University of North Alabama, the host NCAA institution, said they were excited about the extension.
"The SNCC was excited to hear that the Division II Football Committee had recommended the 2010 and 2011 DII Championship games be played in Florence and the NCAA Site Selection Committee has confirmed that recommendation," said Grady Liles, Chairman, of the SNCC.
The facilities seemed to play a more important role in the decision making process for the 2010-2011 bid according to one SNCC volunteer, Mitch Dobbins. "One of the concerns NCAA had was replacing the existing grass with field turf. We are "cautiously optimistic" that this will be in place for the 2010 game."
Dobbins added, "As you know, technology has changed greatly since we began hosting the game, and the past two years the NCAA and SNCC have partnered to provide a video board at the Championship game. The NCAA brought forward the request of replacing the current scoreboard with a permanent video board. This possibility is being discussed for the future."
Mickey Haddock, a longtime SNCC volunteer, said it is also especially gratifying for the local host committee to know they will have the chance to reach the quarter century milestone.
"There are numbers that just sound good and "25' sounds good,' said Haddock. "We are excited that the Shoals area and our many volunteers have provided the student-athletes with an outstanding championship experience for the last 23 years and the NCAA has recognized that fact. Now we know that in 2010 we will be able to say we have had the game for 25 years."
For more information on the NCAA Divison II National Championship, visit www.d2championship.com