Jan. 3, 2008
To view video from the press conference at Shorter College, click here.
Rome, Ga. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced today that Shorter College and Rome-Floyd County have been awarded the 2008 and 2009 NAIA Football National Championships. The 53rd Annual NAIA Football National Championship will be played on December 20, while the 2009 event will be on December 19. Both championship titles will be played at Barron Stadium, home to the Shorter College Hawks.
In early 2007, Athletic Director Bill Peterson and head football coach Phil Jones began the process of submitting a formal bid to the NAIA for hosting the tournament. After Shorter was named a finalist, an NAIA representative came to Rome for a site visit to gain first-hand experience in the excitement that the local community can bring to the national championship event.
"We are both honored and humbled to be selected as the host institution for the 53rd and 54th Annual NAIA National Football Championship games," said Peterson. "Certainly, it would be remiss on our part if we did not acknowledge the wonderful job that Team Hardin - both Hardin County and the city of Savannah (Tenn.) - has done over the past 12 years in hosting this championship. They have set the standard in both organization and hospitality. At the same time, we are excited about the opportunity to put the NAIA National Football Championship game on a national stage. The NAIA is made up of very talented and dedicated student-athletes along with many hard working and innovative coaches, and we are excited about helping them showcase their abilities to the entire nation. We are certainly appreciative of the NAIA for this wonderful opportunity, and we look forward to a number of great championship games here in Rome."
Shorter College President Harold E. Newman added that hosting the national championship games will be an important role for Shorter and for the Rome community. "A great deal of attention will be focused on Shorter College, Rome and Floyd County as we host the NAIA National Championship games in 2008 and 2009," he said. "We appreciate the NAIA for its confidence in us and commit ourselves to making this a successful event. Hosting the national championship will be a great opportunity to showcase the Rome area to the participating players and coaches, their families, friends and alumni of the participating schools, and the media who will cover the game. We are excited by this opportunity and appreciate the city of Rome and Floyd County as they have partnered with us. Their support helped make the achievement of this goal a reality, and we look forward to a strong collaborative relationship as we work together to prepare for this important event. Other vital partners in this endeavor include the Parks and Recreation Authority, who manage Barron Stadium, and the Darlington School, which is providing practice facilities for the teams."
Newman added, "I would also like to publicly thank Shorter College Athletic Director Bill Peterson for his leadership in making the bid; that leadership will continue to be vital throughout the coming months of preparation. His vision, along with that of Shorter's Head Football Coach Phil Jones, has placed Shorter College in the national spotlight, and I am certain that their efforts will ensure that these games are hosted in a superb manner."
In a news release announcing the selection of the host site, NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said, "The success of a national championship is dependent on great partnerships. I would like to thank Team Hardin County for the past twelve years as host and congratulate Shorter College and Rome-Floyd County for its commitment to carry on the tradition of this nationally recognized event. Shorter College and city officials are committed to the student-athlete experience and promise to make a lasting impression on NAIA fans and participants. The 2008 and 2009 championship games will showcase the top teams in the NAIA and is an event fans across the country look forward to each year."
NAIA Championships Administrator Dennis Green added, "We are very excited to begin our partnership with the city of Rome and Shorter College. They have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for hosting the football championship and we are confident in their ability to do so."
"We believed Rome would be a strong contender in the quest for hosting the NAIA national championships," Peterson added. "The town's central location between Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga makes it easily accessible. Of course, Rome is also recognized through the state as a great football town, and Barron Stadium is a wonderful location for football. In addition, the city's population of just under 100,000 people offers a great potential fan base for the event."
Rome Mayor Ronnie Wallace described the opportunity to host the NAIA Football National Championships in Rome as both "very exciting and rewarding." He added, "(It is) exciting because such a notable sports event is coming to Rome where the national champion will be determined and rewarding because it is a great example of where the teamwork of a community desiring to host this event is the strongest indicator of a successful effort. We welcome the NAIA nation to Rome, a championship city indeed."
County Manager Kevin Poe predicted that the event will have significant economic benefits. "Floyd County is very pleased that the NAIA has chosen Rome and Floyd County to be the site of their national championship football game for 2008 and 2009. Rome and Floyd County is known for successfully hosting major sporting events, and with the help of the community and Shorter College, we anticipate this event to be as successful as the others," he said. "We are excited about the possibilities of showing off our community to a large national audience and reaping the positive economic benefits that such an event will generate for the county."
City Manager John Bennett added, "An event of this caliber does not simply attain its greatness by accident, it is the result of planning, organizing and executing the game plan much the same way it is done on the field. There is no better place to showcase this talent than in Rome and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."
According to the NAIA press release, the NAIA has sponsored football since 1956, when its first championship in the sport was held in Little Rock, Ark. Currently 90 NAIA institutions sponsor the sport of football. Only 16 teams will qualify for postseason play. The two teams vying for the national championship title must advance through first round, quarterfinal and semifinal competition leading up to the championship game in mid-December.