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Chowan @ CIAA Football Media Day

ETTRICK, VA. – Amid a crowd of nearly a hundred media members, athletes, coaches and administrators, Chowan University was officially welcomed into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) fold on Thursday on the campus of Virginia State University.

Chowan was admitted to the Historically-Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) conference as a football-playing member last fall. They will join Elizabeth City State University, Shaw University, St. Augustine’s College, Fayetteville State University, St. Paul’s College, Bowie (Md.) State, Johnson C. Smith University, Lincoln University, Virginia State, Virginia Union University and Livingstone College in action on the gridiron.

It’s the first time Chowan has been in a conference since leaving the old NCAA Division-III USA South in 2003.

The Hawks will open play at 7 p.m. August 30 at Elizabeth City State in Roebuck Stadium. In addition to eight CIAA games they have a home game in Murfreesboro against Brevard College on September 13 and travel to Virginia Military Academy in Lexington, September 20.

First-year football coach Tim Place joined the other 11 coaches in the league in answering questions about his Hawks team for the upcoming 2008 season.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Chowan,” said Place, during an online-televised interview that was broadcast over the conference’s website, “one that we are proud of, being the first non-HBCU being admitted to the league. It’s something that we will take seriously on the off the field this season.

“First of all we’re going to try to score more points than the opponent,” he joked amid a chuckle from the crowd, “and as we progress we’re going to do what we do best.”

Place, who was hired in March as Chowan’s seventh head coach and second since the program moved to Division-II, comes to Murfreesboro after six years at NAIA Urbana University in Ohio where he spent the last two seasons as head coach.

He inherits a squad that went 2-9 in 2007, but closed on a high note with a double-overtime victory over Newport News Apprentice, and has 41 players returning plus recruits.

The Hawks did not have a player selected to the All-CIAA Pre-Season team and were picked sixth in the Western Division behind defending champion, Shaw, but Place didn’t seem bothered.

“There’re some great coaches and players in this conference who know what it takes to be successful,” he added, “and we’re going to show up and represent Chowan University with pride and do things right on and off the field.”

Also attending were Chowan President Dr. Christopher White and Hawks Athletic Director Dennis Helsel.

“It’s a partnership that I feel will be beneficial to both,” said White. “We’re the new kids, three home games and picked last. It’s exactly what you want (for motivation). Naturally you want to win, but being competitive is the first step.

“The CIAA has a great tradition with the bands, the cheerleaders and the whole atmosphere at games,” he added. “We’re looking forward to that.”

“I’m just blessed that Dr. White is behind athletics,” added Helsel. “He saw the vision to make this happen. We talked about the CIAA because they’re in our back yard and it’s a good fit. They (the conference) made an opportunity and we owe it to our student athletes to take advantage of this.”

Just as excited to have the Hawks as league members is conference commissioner, Leon Kerry.

“We were looking for good programs, great athletes, great facilities and a school with a reputation of graduating their students, so why not,” said Kerry. “It’s all about being a leader and that’s what I liked.

“We’re going to all learn some things and hopefully help these other teams in the CIAA do some things differently and be more competitive,” he said.

Corporate sponsor Russell Athletics also unveiled each team’s new jerseys and†attendees posed for photographs by the display including Place and sophomore quarterback Marcus Brown.

The Hawks will welcome players back to Murfreesboro for preseason beginning August 6, with practice set to begin on August 7.