NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University will play James A. McDivitt Elementary School in football in 2009 and 2010, the McDivitt Principal's Office announced Thursday.
The series will be a home-and-home. McDivitt will visit Rutgers Stadium in the upcoming 2009 season and the Scarlet Knights will meet the grade schoolers in the open field behind the McDivitt gymnasium in 2010.
The game will mark the first meeting between the two teams. It will also mark the first game in the history of McDivitt Elementary School, located in Old Bridge, NJ, which will be creating a football squad in order to compete.
"We were approached by then-Rutgers Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy a few years back about the possibility. They were concerned about the keeping their out-of-conference schedule on an even keel and they also wanted to stay closer to home. We've been working on this deal ever since," said Barbara MacInerny, McDivitt Vice-Principal and 5th period Gym Teacher. "We've had to move a lot of things around, like the Autumn Harvest Dance and the Presidential Fitness competition, but we got there."
MacInerny said McDivitt is scheduled to fill a vacancy left by Cincinnati,. Even though the Bearcats and Scarlet Knight are conference foes and required to play each other on a yearly basis, Rutgers was able to secure a pass through a new policy that allows them to cancel any games against teams that played in a bowl game the previous season.
"We'll play Cincinnati again in 2010, everybody relax," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. "We just felt that it was a little unfair to start the season with such a tough opponent. We'd rather ease into things and then work our way up."
Rutgers' schedule now begins with McDivitt Elementary on September 7th, Howard University on Sept. 12th and Florida International on Sept. 26th.
McDivitt says they don't foresee an issue with fielding a team for the game.
“We've got the Modesky Twins in fifth grade, best dodgeball enforcers I've ever seen in my 19 years of physical education, and those skills will translate well. And don't sleep on Mrs. Kuznick's 4th grade homeroom, lots of raw speed in that class.” MacInerny said. "And as long as we can play co-ed, we'll be fine."
Schiano says the lack of history between the two programs won't be an issue.
"I mean, some people might balk at this since they're not an FBS team but I point to Howard and Texas Southern, also both on our schedule. Neither of them are in the FBS either and you don't hear people complaining? Well, at least I don't. I have people for that."