Wittenberg, University of Dayton to Play Men's Basketball Exhibition, Football in Future Years

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The University of Dayton and Wittenberg University have announced that they have agreed to meet on the basketball court next year, and on the football field in 2005 and 2006.

"We think this is a good thing for UD and Wittenberg," UD Associate Vice-President for Athletics Tim Wabler said. "We're sure fans of both programs at both schools will be excited about the games."

The meeting on the basketball court will be an exhibition game between the two men's programs on November 9, 2002. That will be the first game in the "new" University of Dayton Arena, which is currently undergoing a $12.1 million renovation. The UD women's team will also play an exhibition game that day.

"I think that this an opportunity for us to get better by playing non-conference opponents the caliber of Dayton. It allows us to showcase our talents outside the Springfield community," Wittenberg Director of Athletics and recreation Garnett Purnell added.

NCAA regulations permit Division I schools, such as UD, to play Division III schools, such as Wittenberg as exhibition games. In the past, when the games counted on the teams' won-loss record, the two teams played 43 times, with Wittenberg holding a 27-16 edge. The series began in the 1905-06 season, but Dayton and Wittenberg have only met twice in the last 25 years.

"Our players, coaches and fans are very excited about the opportunity to compete against the Flyers," Wittenberg Head Men's Basketball Coach Bill Brown said. "It is a chance for our players to showcase both NCAA Division III basketball as well as our own program."

The Flyer and Tiger football programs are two of the most successful in NCAA history. UD competes at the NCAA Division I-AA non-scholarship level, while Wittenberg plays NCAA Division III football, which is also non-scholarship.

"These are two high-quality institutions, athletic programs and football teams," UD Head Football Coach Mike Kelly said. "Add in the local flavor, and you couldn't ask for more. In recent years our freshman teams have played some very competitive and spirited games. Both teams have a lot of respect for each other."

The differences between the two football programs are subtle, so while the basketball meeting is an exhibition, the football games will be part of the schools regular seasons. The first game is tentatively scheduled to be played at Dayton on September 10, 2005, and the return at Wittenberg on September 6, 2006.

"This is a good opportunity for our players and this university to compete against a quality local opponent in the University of Dayton," Wittenberg Head Football Coach Joe Fincham said.

Dayton leads the football series 12-6. Fifteen of the meetings came before World War II. The two teams met twice in 1988, and once in 1989. Dayton won the '88 season opener 35-0, but Wittenberg came back to win 35-28 in overtime in the first round of the Division III playoffs (UD was Division III in football from 1977 to 1992). UD then won the 1989 season opener at Wittenberg 28-3.