NCAA Division II today announced 18 of the 22 regular-season football games that will be carried on ESPN3, WatchESPN and American Sports Network, after the division entered a three-year agreement in 2015 to deliver Division II athletics events. By comparison, only seven games were televised in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“This second year, with an expanded broadcast schedule, continues to give Division II student-athletes a chance to play in front of a national audience,” said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. “Division II student-athletes balance community engagement and strong academics with their athletics, and this national platform gives the division the opportunity to highlight the successes of these student-athletes on and off the field.”
Of the 22-game slate, 18 games have been predetermined. An additional four flex games (two per network) will be finalized later in the football season and played Nov. 5 and 12. The flex games are expected to highlight premier and pivotal matchups.
However, fans won’t need to wait long to watch exciting Division II football. The 36 teams highlighted in the current 2016 TV schedule combined for 272 wins and just 121 losses (a .692 winning percentage) last season. Of those teams, 17 appeared in the Division II playoffs, and 14 finished the 2015 season ranked in the top 25 of the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll. All 18 games currently scheduled feature in-conference matchups.
Defending national champion Northwest Missouri State University will put its 32-2 home stadium record over the past five years on the line when it hosts Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association rival Pittsburg State University on Oct. 29 on the American Sports Network.
A pair of one-loss playoff teams from the 2015 season, Ashland University and Ferris State University, will meet in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown Sept. 24 on American Sports Network. On the same day, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference members Central State University and Kentucky State University will converge at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Circle City Classic on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
National runner-up Shepherd University welcomes Glenville State College for a Mountain East Conference game on Oct. 8 on American Sports Network. Later in the day, 2015 playoff qualifiers Midwestern State University and Texas A&M University-Commerce will try to settle last season’s series split on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. Midwestern State redeemed an early season loss to Texas A&M-Commerce to claim the Lone Star Conference championship.
Two Division II schools are launching football this fall, and both will have a chance to showcase their emerging programs. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin will square off against West Texas A&M University in the Falcons’ first Lone Star Conference game Sept. 17 on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. Two weeks later on Oct. 1, the University of West Florida will play its first home Gulf South Conference game against Florida Institute of Technology on American Sports Network.
Bowie State University and Virginia Union University, who both appeared in the playoffs last year, will meet in a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association contest Oct. 22 on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. Bowie State’s margin of victory in last year’s only meeting against Virginia Union was just four points.
“We’re excited to once again give fans an opportunity to watch Division II football on their mobile and handheld devices, on their computer and on TV,” said Michael McBroom, incoming chair of the Division II Football Committee and director of intercollegiate athletics at West Texas A&M. “The schedule continues to feature some of the best teams in DII, and it should make for great games for our audience and our local communities.”
ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multiscreen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through WatchESPN. The network is currently available nationwide at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.
American Sports Network is part of Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. Including pending transactions, the company owns, operates and/or provides services to 173 television stations in 81 markets, broadcasting 484 channels and having affiliations with all the major networks. Sinclair is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of live sports content. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple platforms, including over-the-air, multichannel video program distributors and digital platforms. The company regularly uses its website as a key source of company information, which can be accessed at SBGI.net. American Sports Network, which launched in August 2014, produced 250 college events in nine sports in its first year and aired nearly 400 events during the 2015-16 academic year. The network launched a 24/7 channel in nine markets in January, and it has increased that total to 21 by June 5.
The Division II broadcast schedule kicks off at 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, Sept. 1, on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
Full schedule (all times Eastern):
|9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1 – Colorado State University-Pueblo at Colorado School of Mines – ESPN3|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3 – Tuskegee University at Clark Atlanta University – ASN|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 – Southwest Minnesota State University at Northern State University – ESPN3|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 – Henderson State University at East Central University – ASN|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 – Valdosta State University at the University of North Alabama – ASN|
|8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 – West Texas A&M University at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin – ESPN3|
|3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 – Central State University vs. Kentucky State University (at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis) – ESPN3|
|3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 – Ashland University at Ferris State University – ASN|
|6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 – Catawba College at Newberry College – ESPN3|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 – Florida Institute of Technology at the University of West Florida – ASN|
|Noon Saturday, Oct. 8 – Glenville State College at Shepherd University – ASN|
|8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 – Midwestern State University at Texas A&M University-Commerce – ESPN3|
|6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 – University of New Haven at Stonehill College – ESPN3|
|7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 – Kutztown University of Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania – ASN|
|1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 – Bowie State University at Virginia Union University – ESPN3|
|3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 – Humboldt State University at Western Oregon University – ASN|
|3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 – Pittsburg State University at Northwest Missouri State University – ASN|
|6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 – William Jewell College at the University of Indianapolis – ESPN3|
|Saturday, Nov. 5 – To be determined|
|Saturday, Nov. 12 – To be determined|