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The Pioneer Football League is a college athletic conference which operates literally from coast to coast in the United Statesmarker. It has member schools that range from New Yorkmarker, North Carolinamarker, and Floridamarker in the east to Californiamarker in the west. The conference participates in the NCAA's Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) as a football-only conference. Unlike most other Division I FCS conferences, the Pioneer League consists of institutions which choose not to award athletic scholarships ("grants-in-aid") to football players. PFL teams are eligible to compete in the FCS playoffs, but can only receive at-large bids because the league is not an automatic qualifier. The league champion plays the champion of the Northeast Conference in the Gridiron Classic.



Following an NCAA rule change passed in January 1991, which required Division I schools to conduct all sports at the Division I level by 1993. The conference was formed by charter members Butler University, the University of Dayton, Drake University, the University of Evansvillemarker, and Valparaiso University. The University of San Diego joined in 1992, and the league played its first season in 1993. These six schools had previously sponsored football at the Division II and Division III levels. The league was narrowed back to five members after Evansville dropped football in 1997.


In 2001, the conference nearly doubled in size and was reorganized with the five current members forming the North Division, and newcomers Austin Peay State University, Davidson College, Jacksonville University and Morehead State University forming the South Division. This reorganization also spawned a new championship system in which the best record holders from each division would play in a title game for the conference championship.

More Membership Changes

On April 8, 2005, Austin Peay announced that it would be leaving the Pioneer Football League after the 2005 season and returning to scholarship-granting competition in 2007 with the Ohio Valley Conference in which it competes in other sports. As a result, the conference was reverted to round-robin play and the divisions and championship game were removed. However, on April 7, 2006 Campbell Universitymarker announced it would bring back football at the non-scholarship level for the 2008 season, and on December 5, 2007 it accepted an invitation to the PFL. [11697]. In February 2008, Marist College announced that it would join the PFL for the 2009 season, after the MAAC stopped sponsoring football. [11698]

Gridiron Classic

On May 16, 2006, the Pioneer Football League (PFL) and Northeast Conference (NEC) announced a two-year agreement to meet in the Gridiron Classic, an exempted postseason football game that will match the champions of the two FCS football conferences. The first two Gridiron Classics were won by the PFL champion. The Gridiron Classic agreement has since been extended through 2009. Should either the PFL or NEC champion be chosen for the NCAA playoffs, the second place finisher in that conference would play in the Gridiron Classic.


Institution Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Joined Nickname Primary Conference
Butler University Indianapolismarker, Indianamarker 1855 Private 4,415 1991 Bulldogs Horizon League
Campbell Universitymarker 1887 Private/Baptist 9,471 2008 Fighting Camels Atlantic Sun Conference
Davidson College 1837 Private 1,700 2001 Wildcats Southern Conference
University of Daytonmarker 1850 Private/Catholic 9,175 1991 Flyers Atlantic 10 Conference
Drake Universitymarker 1881 Private 4,164 1991 Bulldogs Missouri Valley Conference
Jacksonville Universitymarker 1934 Private 3,600 2001 Dolphins Atlantic Sun Conference
Marist College Poughkeepsiemarker, New Yorkmarker 1929 Private 6,115 2009 Red Foxes MAAC
Morehead State Universitymarker 1922 Public 7,921 2001 Eagles Ohio Valley Conference
University of San Diego San Diegomarker, Californiamarker 1949 Private/Catholic 4,904 1992 Toreros West Coast Conference
Valparaiso University 1859 Private/Lutheran 4,000 1991 Crusaders Horizon League

Former members

Institution Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Joined Left Nickname Left for
University of Evansvillemarker 1854 Private/Methodist 3,050 1991 1997 Purple Aces Dropped football
Austin Peay State Universitymarker 1927 Public 8,650 2001 2006 Governors Ohio Valley

Locations of current Pioneer Football League member institutions.



Season Champion Record
1993 Dayton 5–0–0
1994 Butler 4–1–0
Dayton 4–1–0
1995 Drake 5–0–0
1996 Dayton 5–0–0
1997 Dayton 5–0–0
1998 Drake 4–0
1999 Dayton 4–0
2000 Dayton 3–1
Drake 3–1
Valparaiso 3–1


Season Season Champion Record Date Game Champion Score Runner-Up Location
2001 Dayton 4–0 Nov. 17, 2001 Dayton 46–14 Jacksonville Dayton, OH
2002 Dayton 4–0 Nov. 23, 2002 Dayton 28–0 Morehead State Morehead, KY
2003 Valparaiso 3–1 Nov. 22, 2003 Valparaiso 54–42 Morehead State Valparaiso, IN
2004 Drake 4–0 Nov. 20, 2004 Drake 20–17 Morehead State Morehead, KY
2005 San Diego 4–0 Nov. 19, 2005 San Diego 47–40 Morehead State San Diego, CA

Gridiron Classic v. Northeast Conference champion

Season Champion Record Gridiron Date Result Score NEC Opponent Location
2006 San Diego 7–0 Dec. 2, 2006 Won 27–7 Monmouth West Long Branch, NJ
2007 Dayton 6–1 Dec. 1, 2007 Won 42–21 Albany Dayton, OH
2008 Jacksonville 7–1 Dec. 6, 2008 Lost 28–0 Albany Albany, NY

Conference facilities

School Football Stadium Capacity
Butler Butler Bowlmarker 3,000
Campbell Barker-Lane Stadium 5,200
Davidson Richardson Stadiummarker 6,000
Dayton Welcome Stadiummarker 11,000
Drake Drake Stadiummarker 14,557
Jacksonville D.B.marker Milne Fieldmarker 5,500
Marist Leonidoff Field 5,000
Morehead State Jayne Stadiummarker 10,000
San Diego Torero Stadiummarker 6,000
Valparaiso Brown Fieldmarker 5,000


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