|The last time the Stagg Bowl
was played in prime time, Chuck Moore ripped off a 95-yard
touchdown run and Mount Union beat Bridgewater in front of a packed
2001 D3sports.com photo by Pat Cummings
The Division III football championship game will be returning to prime time for the first time since 2001, as Stagg Bowl XXXIX will be played on Friday night, Dec. 16, with a 7 p.m. scheduled air time on ESPNU. The game is in Salem, Va., as it has been since 1993.
The change was made to accommodate the broadcast schedule, according to sources close to the schedule-making decision. The Saturday broadcast schedule is too fluid, with the potential of a Mountain Time or Pacific Time semifinal in the FCS playoffs making a Saturday game difficult.
The City of Salem issued a release Friday afternoon. "This is a great move for the championship," says Brad Bankston, Commissioner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. "Playing at night will provide the city and NCAA the opportunity to spotlight Division III football in primetime, which is something we have wanted since that 2001 game."
"We are thrilled with news that the Stagg Bowl will move under the lights this year," says Greg Shaheen, NCAA Interim Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances. "Our long-standing relationship with our hosts in Salem and the tradition-rich opportunity to have the Stagg Bowl on a new day and time make for a great event experience for everyone to enjoy."
With the game on Friday night, other activities scheduled for the week will likely be adjusted as well, with the Gagliardi Trophy ceremony potentially moving to Wednesday night and the team banquet possibly moving to Thursday evening.
The last time the Stagg Bowl was played in prime time, 2001, it drew a standing room-only crowd to Salem Stadium, helped by the appearance of Bridgewater (Va.), a local favorite.
"This is a great opportunity to highlight NCAA Division III football, as well as Salem and the entire Roanoke Valley in a primetime national broadcast on the ESPN family of networks," says Carey Harveycutter, Salem’s game manager for NCAA championships, of which the area has hosted more than 50. "It should be a great atmosphere under the lights for this year's game."