2003 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship Field Announced

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The field of 16 teams competing for the 2003 Division I-AA Football Championship was announced today by the NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee.

McNeese State University (10-1) tops the bracket as the top seed after capturing the automatic qualifying berth from the Southland Conference. The Cowboys, who were the 2002 national runner-up, have won nine straight games since dropping a decision to I-A Kansas State University.

The University of Delaware (11-1), which is making its twelfth tournament appearance and first since 2000, is the number-two seed. The Fightin' Blue Hens finished the regular season as the champion of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Third-seeded Wofford College (10-1) is in the I-AA tournament for the first time. The Terriers, who captured the Southern Conference crown, last postseason appearance was in 1991 when they qualified for the Division II playoffs.

Rounding out this year's seeded teams is Colgate University (12-0) with the number four seed. The Raiders are making their sixth tournament appearance and are the automatic qualifier from the Patriot League.

Other first-round hosts include the University of Montana (9-2), Bethune-Cookman College (9-2), the University of Northern Iowa (9-2) and defending national champion Western Kentucky University (8-3).

Other automatic qualifiers in the tournament include Montana State University (7-5), which earned the automatic bid from the Big Sky Conference after winning the tiebreaker over Montana and the University of Northern Arizona. Jacksonville State University (8-3), which is making its first postseason appearance since it won the Division II national championship in 1992, is the automatic winner from the Ohio Valley Conference. The University of Northern Iowa (9-2) earned the Gateway Football Conference's automatic bid. North Carolina A&T (10-2), from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, is the last automatic qualifier.

Other teams in the field are Florida Atlantic University (9-2), Northern Arizona (8-3), the University of Massachusetts (10-2), the Western Illinois University (8-3) and Southern Illinois University (10-1).

Conferences receiving automatic-qualifying berths were the Atlantic 10 Conference, Big Sky Conference, Gateway Football Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Patriot League, Southern Conference and Southland Football Conference.

Following are the match-ups for the first round of competition to be played Saturday, November 29. Game times will be released Monday, November 24, via the NCAA Championships web site (www.ncaasports.com). Television schedules for all rounds of the 2003 championship will be updated daily at the NCAA Sports web site (www.ncaasports.com).
November 29 at Lake Charles, Louisiana
Northern Arizona (8-3) at No. 1 McNeese State (10-1)

November 29 at Daytona Beach, Florida
Florida Atlantic (9-2) at Bethune-Cookman (9-2)

November 29 at Hamilton, New York
Massachusetts (10-2) at No. 4 Colgate (12-0)

November 29 at Missoula, Montana
Western Illinois (8-3) at Montana (9-3)

November 29 at Spartanburg, South Carolina
North Carolina A&T (10-2) at No. 3 Wofford (10-1)

November 29 at Bowling Green, Kentucky
Jacksonville State (8-3) at Western Kentucky (8-3)

November 29 at Daytona Beach, Florida
Florida Atlantic (9-2) at Bethune-Cookman (9-2)

November 29 at Newark, Delaware
Southern Illinois (10-1) at No. 2 Delaware (11-1)

November 29 at Cedar Falls, Iowa
Montana State (7-5) at Northern Iowa (9-2)

The 2003 championship field consists of eight automatic qualifiers and eight at-large qualifiers.

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (8)
North Carolina A&T - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Colgate - Patriot League
Wofford - Southern Conference
McNeese State - Southland Conference
Montana St. - Big Sky Conference
Jacksonville State - Ohio Valley Conference
Delaware - Atlantic 10 Conference
Northern Iowa - Gateway Football Conference

AT-LARGE QUALIFERS (8)
Northern Arizona - Big Sky Conference
Western Illinois - Gateway Football Conference
Bethune-Cookman - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Massachusetts - Atlantic 10 Conference
Montana - Big Sky Conference
Western Kentucky - Gateway Football Conference
Southern Illinois - Gateway Football Conference
Florida Atlantic - Independent

The College Sports Television Network will televise one first round game on Saturday, November 29, which will be determined at a later time. All of this year's quarterfinal games will be televised on a syndicated platform (local cable, regional sports networks, over-the air local channels). The games will also be available through ESPN's regular season pay-per-view package, ESPN Game Plan, on Saturday, December 6. Both semifinal games will be televised on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, December 13.

The 2003 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Eastern time Friday, December 19, at W. Max Finley Stadium/Davenport Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Westwood One Radio Network will also broadcast the championship game nationally.

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