DOVER, Del.- Delaware State University and the University of Delaware announced Tuesday that they have reached a formal agreement that will result in the scheduling of four future football contests.
In a joint announcement made by DSU acting President Claibourne D. Smith and UD President Patrick T. Harker at Delaware State's Administration Building, the two universities will play a series of games that will take place on Sept. 8, 2012, Sept. 7, 2013 and Sept. 6, 2014. All three games will be played at the University of Delaware's 22,000-seat Delaware Stadium.
The series will kickoff this fall when the two schools will play a scheduled game on Sept. 19, 2009 at Delaware Stadium. The game time and ticket information will be released later this spring.
The 2009 game came about when Furman announced earlier this month that it was dropping out of a scheduled Sept. 19 game at Delaware earlier this month in order to schedule a game at the University of Missouri on that date.
In addition to Smith and Harker, also taking part in the announcement were Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, and DSU head coach Al Lavan.
The DSU Hornets and the UD Blue Hens played for a historic first time in 2007 when both teams earned bids to play in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Series. The first round game, won by the Blue Hens by a 44-7 score, drew a Delaware Stadium playoff record crowd of 19,765, was broadcast live nationally on ESPN, and generated extensive local and national media attention.
However, the two football programs had never before scheduled a game against each other.
"The Delaware-Delaware State game is a win-win for both universities, promising a great athletic contest and a great atmosphere, not to mention a competitive stimulus for both athletic programs with a game certain to sell out every time it is played," Harker said.
Smith echoed Harker's sentiments when he said, "The tremendous excitement that was generated when DSU and UD played in the 2007 college playoffs made it clear that this is a match-up that football fans in Delaware want to see regularly."
Both teams experienced tremendous successes during their 2007 football campaigns which led to the Hornets and the Blue Hens' historic meeting in the opening round of FCS playoffs.
DSU had captured the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title and made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance while Delaware began an incredible post-season run that took the Hens all the way to the national championship game.
The following year however, both UD and DSU experienced off-years with records of 4-8 and 5-6, respectively.
Delaware's optimism is high in 2009 as the Blue Hens return over 20 players with starting experience, including 14 back from a defense that ranked among the top units in the Colonial Athletic Association a year ago.
Leading the group is senior defensive end/linebacker Matt Marcorelle, a two-time all-conference pick who earned All-American honors in 2007, and senior safety Charles Graves, who led the team with 78 tackles and earned second-team All-American honors by the Associated Press this past fall.
Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler will enter his eighth season at the helm of the Blue Hens with a record of 56-34. In 14 seasons as a college head coach, he is 144-55-1 and ranks among the top winning active coaches in NCAA Division I FCS.
"This game is an exciting thing not only for our football teams and our institutions, but for all the fans in Delaware," said Keeler. "I have the utmost respect for Coach Lavan and his program at Delaware State and we look forward to this year's game and to all our future meetings. It's always exciting to begin a new rivalry. We can't wait for September."
The University of Delaware has enjoyed outstanding football success during its 117 seasons since 1889. The Blue Hens have captured six national titles, including in 2003 when the team went 15-1 and defeated Colgate in the national title game. In addition, UD has finished as national runner-up four times (including 2007), won 15 conference titles, advanced to the NCAA Tournament 19 times, been named Lambert (Eastern) Cup champion 19 teams, and ECAC Team of the Year 11 times.
The DSU Hornets will be put to the test in 2009. In addition to the Sept. 19 game against the Blue Hens, the Hornets will later take the field against the University of Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 17 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. DSU will open the season with a MEAC game on Sept. 5 at Florida A&M.
In five seasons at DSU, Lavan has posted an overall record of 34-22, including a 29-10 mark in MEAC contests. He has led the team to winning records in three of the last four seasons. In the three years prior to his arrival, the Hornets were 10-24 overall and 6-17 in the league.
Delaware State had just one winning season in the eight years before Lavan took the job.
"The scheduling of these games will establish an in-state regular season matchup that has been a long time in coming," said Lavan. "It is a challenge that the Hornet team accepts and we look forward to the competition between these two great universities."
As the State College for Colored Students in 1905, the school established its first football team. According to the existing win-loss records that date back to 1924, Delaware State has an all-time record of 328-357-11, with undefeated conference records in 1985, 1987 and 2007.
The 2007 season was the top football campaign in the DSU's history as it finished the year 8-0 in the MEAC and 10-2 overall, with its final game loss coming against UD in that historic playoff matchup.
While this is the first time that DSU and UD have included each other on their regular season football schedule, the two universities have competed previously in men's and women's basketball, baseball, women's softball, women's volleyball, tennis, cross country as well as track and field. For the first time in the fall 2009, the two schools' women's soccer teams will play a regular season match.
Below is Delaware's 2009 schedule, including a Sept. 12 matchup with defending national champion Richmond at Delaware Stadium. The West Chester game is the only game in which a starting time has been determined.
Sept. 4 vs. West Chester, 7 p.m.; Sept. 12 vs. Richmond (Band Day); Sept. 19, Delaware State; Sept. 26 at William & Mary; Oct. 3 at Maine; Oct. 10 vs. Massachusetts (Parents & Family Weekend); Oct. 17 at Towson; Oct. 24, Open Date; Oct. 31 vs. James Madison (Homecoming); Nov. 7 vs. Hofstra (Hall of Fame Day); Nov. 14 at Navy; Nov. 21 at Villanova.