Complete PFL Release
ST. LOUIS - Pioneer Football League Commissioner Patty Viverito announced Monday that Mercer University and Stetson University have accepted the league's invitations for membership. Both institutions will begin play with the 2013 season, bringing the league’s membership to 12 teams at that time.
“The Pioneer Football League has been committed to non-scholarship Division I football since the league’s inception and has actively sought like-minded institutions to join us,” said Viverito. “With Mercer and Stetson, we add two great institutions that share our football vision.”
Mercer, located in Macon, Ga., announced the return of its football program in 2010. The Bears have not competed in football since 1941 but its history includes playing the first football game in Georgia against the University of Georgia in 1892. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia with NCAA Division I membership.
Stetson, located in DeLand, Fla., will return to the football gridiron for the first time in 57 years after a 2011 decision to reinstate the program. The Hatters last competed in football during the 1956 season, however the program’s roots can be traced back to the first organized football game played in Florida.
With the addition of Mercer and Stetson, the Pioneer Football League expands is footprint in the Southeast where they will join current members Campbell, Davidson, Jacksonville and Morehead State. They also continue the PFL’s tradition of attracting institutions beginning a football program that are committed to the principles of the league’s model, which began with Jacksonville in 1998 and continued with Campbell’s addition in 2008.
The league, which began with four members upon its inception in 1991, will expand to 12 members in 2013. With the additional growth, the league foresees increased scheduling opportunities for its members which should further limit the impact of travel-related costs. To that end, league members recently agreed to implement an eight-game conference schedule beginning with the 2013 campaign, but have not determined the schedule’s structure at this time.
“It is very exciting for our league to add two quality institutions like Mercer and Stetson,” University of Dayton head football coach Rick Chamberlin said. “Expanding to 12 teams will allow us greater flexibility in our scheduling and give us more trips to see our aulmni in the deep south. That is something our players will be excited about.”
Dayton won its 11th PFL title in 2010. In the league’s 18 seasons, the Flyers’ 76 wins and .800 winning percentage are the best in PFL history by a healthy margin. UD has earned at least a share of three of the last four Pioneer Football League championships.
The Pioneer Football League is the nation’s only non-scholarship, football-only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conference. The PFL is a truly national conference with members on each coast and throughout the nation’s heartland.
The league still retains four of its charter members – Butler University, the University of Dayton, Drake University and Valparaiso University, plus the University of San Diego (joining in 1992) – which were joined in 2001 by Davidson College, Jacksonville University and Morehead State University. Campbell University joined the PFL in 2008, its first season of intercollegiate football. Marist College, which joined prior to the 2009 season, further extended the league’s footprint into the northeast. The addition of Mercer and Stetson will further solidify its presence in the southeast.