From the Burlington Times News: www.thetimesnews.com/article/20150915/SPORTS/150919379/15215/SPORTS
Aggies to end football series early with Elon
Teams will play Saturday, then break from matchups
By Adam Smith
Posted Sep. 15, 2015 at 12:29 AM
Updated Sep 15, 2015 at 2:10 PM
GREENSBORO — The Elon and North Carolina A&T football game scheduled for next year is off, meaning Saturday night’s matchup will be their last meeting for at least two years, and perhaps further into the future.N.C. A&T asked out of the non-conference game, which was to have concluded a four-season deal between the nearby Football Championship Subdivision teams, in order to step up a level and play Tulsa in a guaranteed money game Sept. 17, 2016.
“We’ll try to pick that game back up at some point in the next couple years,” N.C. A&T athletics director Earl Hilton said Monday, referring to Elon. “But we haven’t nailed down the dates yet.”
Elon has added a game against Fayetteville State, a Division II program, for next year to fill the void created by the Aggies’ departure.
Elon’s schedules are full for 2016 and 2017 — with contracted non-league games vs. Gardner-Webb and at Charlotte next season and at Toledo, at Furman and vs. Charleston Southern the season after — so 2018 would be the earliest the Phoenix and N.C. A&T could renew their series.
Athletics director Dave Blank said Elon was understanding and agreed to be accommodating when N.C. A&T approached about calling off their meeting next season at Aggie Stadium, the final of four games between the teams in as many years.
“We took a little bit of a risk, but we didn’t want to stand in their way,” Blank said Monday. “So we told them that we were willing to free up that date to help them.
“It’s not an FCS game for us (against Fayetteville State). That was going to be hard to do. But still, it’s a home game, so that’s good news for our team and our fans.”
The move means N.C. A&T has back-to-back Football Bowl Subdivision opponents next September, trips to Kent State and Tulsa on consecutive weekends that will earn the Aggies about $650,000. Each game comes with a payday of approximately $325,000.
Division I programs such as Elon and N.C. A&T that reside in the lower-tiered FCS depend on windfalls such as those to help balance the budgets of their athletics departments.Hilton said he first was contacted by an ESPN staffer, who informed him of a scheduling domino effect that had left Tulsa with an opening and presented N.C. A&T with the opportunity. Thus, the deal began to be brokered.
“It took a couple months to work it out,” Hilton said. “Love to have the experience for the kids to play against that competition. Certainly the money doesn’t hurt.”
Blank was clear in saying that the Phoenix wants to resume its series with N.C. A&T in some form.
The teams, separated by about 20 miles, will meet Saturday night at Elon for the 11th time in 17 seasons.
“Hopefully we can keep playing them,” Blank said. “We didn’t close the loop. We said we’re interested in continuing to play, let’s see what the future brings and maybe even start a new series or whatever makes sense. That’s kind of how we left it.”
Elon and N.C. A&T faced each other eight straight years from 1999-2006. They renewed what some call a neighboring rivalry in 2013 with the first game of what was supposed to be the current four-year contract.
The series has produced memorable moments and school milestones. In 2000, N.C. A&T’s first night game in Aggie Stadium history was played against Elon. A year later, N.C. A&T was the opponent when Elon opened Rhodes Stadium, then its new home on campus.
“We’ll get back together with A&T and see where it goes,” Blank said of potential discussions for later.
Hinton said, “We love playing Elon,” while expressing appreciation for his working relationships with Blank and Clay Hassard, one of Blank’s chief lieutenants.
But privately — and even publically, as was the custom of former football coach Bill Hayes — N.C. A&T officials have grumbled through the years about weak turnouts by Elon fans at Aggie Stadium. Conversely, N.C. A&T’s visits to Elon often have produced some of the biggest crowds at Rhodes Stadium.N.C. A&T coach Rod Broadway replied, “I don’t care,” when asked Monday if he’d like to see the series with Elon sustained.
“It’s been good, though,” Broadway said. “It’s been a good game the couple years that we’ve played them. It’s close. It’s not a lot of money (on travel expenses), so it’s a good little game.”
A&T's future non-league football opponents
9/3 - TBD
9/10 - @ Kent State
9/17 - @ Tulsa