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Stetson joining Jacksonville University in the Pioneer Football League
Stetson University is reviving its football program and will join Jacksonville as a member of the Pioneer Football League (PFL) starting in the fall of 2013.
Mercer made a similar announcement last fall as the PFL will grow to 12 teams in two years. That could lead to the league splitting into divisions and creating a championship game, with the hope that the winner would receive an automatic berth in the 20-team Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.
Last fall, Jacksonville was bypassed as an at-large playoff team despite sharing the PFL title (with Dayton), winning its final nine games and leading the nation in total offense and scoring. The Dolphins finished No. 18 in the final media poll.
The addition of Stetson and Mercer to the league will help the Dolphins in several areas, JU athletic director Alan Verlander said.
“In football, rivalries are a big deal. With Mercer and Stetson, we already have rivalries with them in basketball, baseball and other sports in the Atlantic Sun,” Verlander said. “This makes it easier on our travel budget. We already have a relationship with all their people.
“It will probably make sense for the conference to split into two regional divisions. We could be looking at a group like Stetson, Mercer, Davidson, Campbell and one other school join us for a division here in the southeast. This [realignment by divisions] is something the ADs will be talking about.”
Stetson last had a football team in 1956, 55 years ago. The school, which announced it is also adding women’s lacrosse, has committed to raising roughly $5 million for on-campus improvements. The additions are part of Stetson’s collaboration with the city of DeLand. The two will pool resources to renovate Spec Martin Municipal Stadium for use by Stetson’s teams as well as DeLand High School’s football and soccer teams.
The DeLand City Council approved a $2.2 million expenditure for stadium renovations.
The football program will not issue scholarships, similar to that of all other members of the Pioneer League.
Four Atlantic Sun Conference teams — Jacksonville, Campbell, Stetson and Mercer — will now be competing against each other in the PFL. Two other A-Sun schools, Lipscomb and Belmont — have had discussions about adding football.