|Keystone athletics photo
After a decades-long hiatus, Keystone College, a Division III school in northeast Pennsylvania, will add football as a varsity sport. When the Giants take the field for “a limited schedule” in 2019, they will bring the number of Division III football programs to 252, barring other programs moving into D-III in the interim.
The Giants will begin the process of hiring a coaching staff to begin recruiting and accepting applications for student-athletes wanting to play NCAA Division III varsity football. The 2018-19 academic year will be a year of preparation and training for the coaches and players, as well as the recruitment of additional student-athletes.
The Giants will take the field for their first games in the fall of 2019, playing a limited varsity schedule as an independent team not affiliated with any conference. Keystone will seek an affiliation with a Division III football conference and will play a complete schedule beginning in the fall of 2020. Keystone will remain a member of the Colonial States Athletic Conference for all other varsity sports.
The Giants will play their home games at the school’s Athletic Field and Track Complex, which opened in 2014. Located nearby is the Eckel Family Pavilion and the entrance to the new Trolley Trail hiking and biking trail, making the eastern edge of the campus a popular gathering place for the college community and the local community. Plans also call for a new field house to be constructed near the athletic field for use by the football program and other Keystone athletic teams.
While football will be a new experience for current students and fans, Keystone has a proud football tradition. The team competed in football in the 1890s as Keystone Academy (a high school) and the program ended in 1947 as a junior college. Keystone became a four-year school in 1998.
The college’s most recently added sports include men’s and women’s lacrosse, wrestling, and women’s golf. Those sports have proven to be successful and productive for student-athletes. Football became the next logical step to continue the growth of the Keystone student-athlete experience. In addition to the games themselves, football on campus will provide an enjoyable and uplifting experience for everyone associated with the college and will bring people together to socialize and share common experiences, according to a school news release.
“We are so excited to reintroduce football as our next varsity sport,” said Keystone president David L. Coppola. “This will be a wonderful experience not only for the student-athletes who come here to continue their education and compete on the NCAA Division III level but for our entire student body and alumni as well. We can’t wait to get started and we look forward to the day when we cheer for the Giants as they take the field for the very first time.”
Keystone's addition would bring the number of new Division III football programs to 34 over the past 20-plus years, meaning more than one-eighth of all current Division III programs have been added over that time frame. The school is 30-40 miles north of three existing Division III football programs: King's, Misericordia and Wilkes.