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NESCAC moves to full nine-game football schedule for fall 2017

HADLEY, Mass. -- The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) will implement round-robin scheduling in the sport of football beginning with the 2017 season, the conference announced Friday. The NESCAC Presidents voted to support converting the annual scrimmage each school plays into a regular-season game.

For Bates, the move will mean doing away with the Bobcats' annual preseason scrimmage against Colby, which has traditionally taken place eight days before the opening game of the season. Instead, on that weekend Bates will now play either Trinity or Amherst -- the two teams that have rotated on and off Bates' schedule every two years. 

Bates' 2017 season will start Sept. 16 at Amherst College, the one NESCAC football team that prior to today was not included on the schedule. The Bobcats will then play their home opener against Trinity College on Sept. 23, followed by the remaining seven games, finishing on Nov. 11 at Hamilton.

"We are pleased to move to a full, round-robin schedule for football," said Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Chair of the Conference Committee. "Converting the scrimmage to a regular season game solves challenges institutions had finding opponents to play in a scrimmage and supports our efforts to improve safety."

Converting the scrimmage into a regular-season contest will allow the 10 schools that sponsor football to play each other. This change will also result in fewer live contact practices for teams as they prepare for a game rather than a scrimmage. The NESCAC head football coaches fully supported the change and reduction in contact practices.

Bates head coach Mark Harriman gave the announcement an immediate thumbs-up. "It's great," Harriman told the Sun Journal on Friday. "It's something that as a coaching body, NESCAC coaches, we've been trying to push forward for a long time. You know, it makes sense to have a true playing conference. It gives our guys another opportunity to compete."

The coaches also unanimously agreed to continue their current practice of players not engaging in live tackling during practice once in-season.

"Moving to full round robin alleviates the difficulty institutions encountered trying to schedule scrimmages due to our later start date," stated NESCAC Executive Director Andrea Savage. "Additionally, reducing the number of contact practices supports our continuing efforts on enhancing health and safety."

2017 NESCAC Composite Football Schedule