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UAlbany Football Will Play First-Ever FBS Opponent with Trip to Cincinnati in 2011 Season
Albany, N.Y. – University at Albany Vice President and Director of Athletics Lee McElroy announced on Thursday, Aug. 27 that the school’s football program will play its first NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent when the Great Danes travel to the University of Cincinnati for the projected 2011 season opener. UAlbany has competed at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level since 1999.
“We continually ask our coaches and student-athletes to challenge themselves,” said McElroy, who has directed an intercollegiate program that is currently celebrating 10 years of Division I athletics. “As universities, Cincinnati and UAlbany have similar missions as public research institutions. While we are a couple years away from playing, today’s announcement signifies another important step in the evolution of a program that continues to distinguish itself throughout its brief FCS history.”
One of the nation’s oldest collegiate football programs, Cincinnati has had tremendous success under third-year mentor Brian Kelly, a two-time Big East Conference Coach of the Year. Kelly led the Bearcats to the Big East championship and an appearance in the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech last season. Cincinnati set a school record with an 11-3 campaign and posted back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time. The Bearcats, who were ranked No. 17 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 polls, won the 2007 PapaJohns.com Bowl in a 31-21 triumph over Southern Mississippi.
“This is a great challenge and an opportunity to see how far we have come over the last ten years,” offered UAlbany coach Bob Ford, who has guided the Great Danes to four Northeast Conference championships in this decade. “It will be a true measuring stick against a very good opponent.”
Cincinnati is the fifth-oldest college football program in the nation, behind Rutgers, Michigan, Navy and Minnesota. Nippert Stadium, which opened in 1902, has gone through a series of expansions. In 1991, the capacity was upped to 35,000. The stadium was one of the first in the United States to utilize FieldTurf, a grass-like synthetic surface.
UAlbany has competed as an NCAA Division I FCS program and as an associate member of the Northeast Conference since 1999. The Great Danes have won or shared four NEC titles in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008. In addition, UAlbany won last year’s Gridiron Classic and captured the 2002 ECAC Bowl Classic. Coach Ford, who is the nation’s winningest active FCS coach with 234 career victories, started the program at the club level in 1970. The Great Danes began NCAA Division III play in 1973, moved to Division II in 1995 and upgraded to its present level four years later.