|Eureka athletics photo|
Remaining at the minimum
After the current set of conference realignments take effect, there will be even fewer conferences remaining with the minimum seven football programs. Having the minimum means schools must schedule four non-conference games, and those games are hard to find after the first few weeks of the season.
The remaining conferences at the margins for football:
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (7 teams in 2019)
* Includes move of Buffalo State to the LL reported by D3football.com in March but yet to be formally announced by the conference.
Eureka will be joining the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference for football in 2018, D3sports.com has learned. Multiple sources told D3sports.com that the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference schools have been told not to include Eureka on the 2018 conference schedule and they are searching for a second non-conference game. (UMAC teams could, clearly, schedule Eureka as a non-conference opponent.)
The Red Devils will be playing their ninth season in the UMAC this fall, as one of five members of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference affiliated with the UMAC for football over that time frame. The SLIAC sponsored football for one season, in 2008, before Blackburn and Principia dropped the sport and sent SLIAC schools looking for new affiliation.
Previously, Eureka was a member of the Illini-Badger Football Conference, along with many of the programs currently in the NACC.
The NACC has had the minimum seven teams required to maintain an automatic bid to the Division III football playoffs since Maranatha Baptist was removed from the league in all sports following the 2012-13 academic year. Currently, NACC teams are in a scheduling agreement with the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association which requires teams in each conference to schedule two crossover games each year.
The NACC office was not ready to comment on the record when we initially contacted them for this story.
“We are disappointed to see Eureka College leave the UMAC as they have been a positive contributor to the fabric of UMAC football for the past eight seasons,” said UMAC commissioner Corey Borchardt.
"We are very pleased to have Eureka College joining the NACC as an affiliate member in football," said NACC commissioner G. Steven Larson. "Eureka has a long-standing relationship and history of competing with many of our members in the past. They have demonstrated both commitment to their football program and competitiveness."
Adding Eureka also serves as a hedge against another school leaving the conference, dropping the sport, or, in the case of Benedictine, perhaps exploring membership in NCAA Division II.