EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College will join the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference as an associate football member in 2018, the College announced Monday. Eureka will retain its full-time membership with the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in all other men's and women's sports.
"We're excited for our football program to make the move to the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference," Eureka College Director of Athletics Steve Thompson said. "We're always looking to build the best possible experience for our student-athletes. The NACC is a league that provides more student-friendly travel and an excellent level of competition against a variety of opponents our fan base and alumni are very familiar with. We're eager to get started this fall."
Eureka will become the eighth football member of the NACC and will be immediately eligible to compete for the NACC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs, as well as individual and team awards.
The move to the NACC will revive a collection of long-time rivalries established by the EC football program dating back as far as 1938. Eureka previously competed as league rivals in the now-defunct Illini-Badger Football Conference with five current members of the NACC – Aurora, Benedictine, Concordia (Ill.), Concordia (Wis.) and Lakeland – until 2007. Eureka has played a total of 167 football games against active members of the NACC in program history, the most combined contests played by the Red Devils against any active NCAA Division III league.
EC will play a full seven-game league schedule beginning in 2018 and have its non-conference schedule expand to three games each season. The annual Lincoln Bowl matchup with Knox to begin the season will remain part of the schedule and is set for Saturday, Sept. 1 in Galesburg, Ill.
The Red Devils will host their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 8 against former conference rival Iowa Wesleyan at McKinzie Field.
Eureka's new membership with the NACC will include an annual crossover game against a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association as part of the NACC's scheduling agreement with the MIAA. The Red Devils will host Finlandia (Mich.) on Saturday, Sept. 15 at McKinzie Field. The matchup with the Lions marks the first-ever meeting in football between the two schools.
Following a bye week, the Red Devils will begin their inaugural NACC schedule Sept. 29 on the road at Aurora. Eureka's annual homecoming game is next, an Oct. 6 matchup with Wisconsin Lutheran at McKinzie Field. The Red Devils and WLC have never met in football, but have competed against one another as recently as 2013 in men's soccer and women's soccer.
The Red Devils will visit the Chicago suburbs for a game against Concordia (Ill.) in River Forest, Ill. on Oct. 13. Eureka's 23 all-time victories over Concordia are the most against any opponent in program history. Benedictine will travel to McKinzie Field the following weekend for an Oct. 20 bout. The Red Devils hosted the Eagles as recently as the 2010 campaign.
The next weekend brings the first of back-to-back road trips to the state of Wisconsin. Eureka will travel to Concordia (Wis.) in Mequon, Wis. on Oct. 27, its first visit to the Falcons since 2007. EC follows with its longest road trip of the campaign for a Nov. 3 bout with defending NACC champion Lakeland in Sheboygan, Wis. Eureka's 45 all-time meetings with Lakeland are the second-most against any opponent in program history.
The Red Devils will close the regular season in their annual Senior Day against Rockford on Nov. 10. Eureka and RU split a season-opening home-and-home series in 2004 and 2005, the only two meetings between the two programs.
Eureka will arrive in the NACC after nine seasons as an associate member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. The Red Devils won the UMAC title in 2017 and advanced to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time in program history.