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CAA to sponsor football beginning in 2007

3:10 p.m., May 5, 2005--Beginning with the 2007 season, the University of Delaware football team will join the institution’s other varsity sports by competing in the Colonial Athletic Association.

CAA Commissioner Thomas E. Yeager announced the new football conference, which will include all of those universities that currently compete in the Atlantic 10 Football Conference, during a press conference on Wednesday, May 4, in Richmond, Va.

“We are pleased to announce the addition of football to the CAA,” Yeager said. “College football, with all of its tradition, pageantry and rivalries, creates an interest and excitement on campus and across communities that is unmatched. We look forward to having the CAA name attached to such a distinguished group of institutions and building on the successes that those members have had in the past.”

“We are pleased to continue in a league with all of the other former members of the Atlantic 10,” UD President David P. Roselle said. “It is great that the Colonial Athletic Association is now an all-sports league and that the members are in located in major media centers up and down the East Coast. We believe that the future for the CAA is very bright, indeed.”

"We are pleased to be able to have all of our sports teams under the banner of one conference for the first time since 1970,” UD Director of Athletics Edgar Johnson said. “The CAA is an outstanding conference and having all of our sports there will be a plus for both the University of Delaware and the CAA. We are now able to brand our athletics program with one conference logo."

Johnson added, "For the 12 football members, the move is really nothing more than an administrative change going from the Atlantic 10 Football Conference to the CAA, and the change after the 2006 season should be seamless.”

Johnson praised Atlantic 10 Commissioner Linda Bruno “for all that she and her staff have done to make our conference the best Division I-AA conference in the country” and noted the entire conference staff “has been most supportive.”

“At the same time,” Johnson said, “I am pleased that Tom Yeager and his capable staff will be administering the football conference along with all of our other sports. We all look forward to working with him in keeping our football conference the pre-eminent conference in Division I-AA football."

In addition to UD, members of the CAA’s NCAA Division I-AA football conference will be Hofstra University, James Madison University, the University of Maine, the University of Massachusetts, the University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Richmond, Towson University, Villanova University and the College of William and Mary. All 12 teams are currently members of the Atlantic 10 and will continue that affiliation through the 2006 season.

“The addition of Northeastern as a full CAA member and the sixth football-playing institution qualified the CAA for football conference recognition by the NCAA,” Yeager said. “With the commitment to begin conference competition, invitations were sent to the other six institutions and we are thrilled that the long, competitive history of this league will be preserved.”

The conference is already considered one of the finest in Division I-AA football, having produced the past two national champions in UD (2003) and James Madison (2004) and three of the last seven with Massachusetts claiming the title in 1998. Ten of the 12 teams have reached the Division I-AA playoffs at least once in the past five years.

Four teams (UD, James Madison, New Hampshire and William and Mary) earned Division I-AA playoff berths a year ago and all of them advanced to the quarterfinals, marking the first time in the 27-year history of Division I-AA football that a conference had achieved that feat. Eight of the 12 conference members were ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll at the same time last October.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2004-05, the CAA has established itself as one of the nation’s top collegiate conferences. Along with UD, Hofstra, James Madison, Towson and William and Mary, other full members include Drexel University, George Mason University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Georgia State University and Northeastern will increase the CAA’s full membership to 12 when they join the conference on July 1, 2005.

“I am very pleased that the CAA has seen two major events this year,” Eugene P. Trani, president of Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the CAA Council of Presidents, said. “First, the addition of Northeastern and Georgia State bringing the conference to 12 full-time members with six Division I-AA football programs and schools in five of the nation’s nine largest media markets. Second, I am delighted that Villanova, Maine, New Hampshire, Richmond, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are now all part of Colonial football. The CAA universities could not be more pleased with the increased recognition that the CAA is a major league on the national scene.”

Football will become the 22nd sport to be sponsored by the CAA. The conference has produced 16 national team champions in five different sports, 33 individual national champions, 11 national players of the year, 11 national coaches of the year and 12 Honda Award winners.

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