INDIANAPOLIS - Coming off its fourth national championship in 2018, the Valdosta State football team learned Tuesday its 2019 home-opener, scheduled for 6:05 p.m. on Sept. 14 versus Ohio Dominican, will be part of the NCAA Division II Football Showcase. The NCAA announced 18 regular-season football games that will be showcased on ESPN3 or NCAA social media as part of a media agreement intended to promote the division on several platforms throughout the academic year.

The first 18 games of the football showcase are predetermined games, 16 of which are conference matchups. An additional four flex games –– intended to highlight crucial matchups –– will be finalized later in the season and played in November.

Now in its second year, the division’s media agreement features two distribution models for football and basketball. For football, 11 games will be streamed on ESPN3, available on the ESPN App. Eleven additional football games are part of the hybrid model, and they have the flexibility to be distributed on TV and online. The division will work with the TV partners of the participating conferences and schools on the opportunity to air games on TV. These games also will be distributed online through NCAA social media accounts - specifically, Division II Facebook (facebook.com/ncaadivisionii) and Twitter (@NCAADII) - and through conference and school digital networks.

“It’s always exciting to begin a new academic year and the start of the Division II season,” said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. “We’re looking forward to highlighting the teams that will be featured in the football showcase and promoting the Division II brand on several platforms for fans to see across the country.”

Games included in the schedule were broadcasts selected from a pool of conference nominations. Of the 16 football-sponsoring conferences in Division II, 15 will be featured in at least one game. One conference declined to participate.

Of the teams competing in the slate of games, 15 appeared in the 2018 Division II playoffs, and 15 begin the 2019 season ranked in the top 25 of the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll.

“The football showcase features several great teams and matchups,” said Daryl Dickey, chair of the Division II Football Committee and athletics director at West Georgia. “It’s always fun to follow Division II football and celebrate our student-athletes for their excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”

ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible on ESPN.com and the ESPN App across computers, smartphones, tablets and connected streaming devices. The network is available at no additional cost to fans who receive a pay TV subscription from an affiliated provider. The network is also available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

The Blazers and the Panthers will meet on the gridiron for the first time on Sept. 14, at 6:05 p.m., on ESPN3. It will be the third game of the showcase for the fall. The showcase kicks off on Sept. 5 with Harding at Ouachita Baptist on ESPN3 and Fort Hays State at Central Missouri that same day on the hybrid model. Last season, the Blazers were part of the Showcase in the Okefenokee Classic in Waycross, Ga., as the Blazers downed Fort Valley State 55-6.

This game for the Blazers marks the third game broadcast by the ESPN family of networks for the 2019 season, as VSU was selected earlier in August for two games for part of the Gulf South Conference Game of the Week package. VSU plays at Shorter on ESPN+ on Sept. 28 and at West Georgia on Nov. 16 on ESPN3.

VSU opens the 2019 season at rival Albany State on Sept. 7, at 7 p.m., in Albany, Ga. Tickets for the Albany State game, as well as season tickets for Blazer home football games, are on sale now at vstateblazers.com on by calling 229-333-SEAT. Check back with vstateblazers.com for information on all of VSU’s 12 intercollegiate athletic teams.

NCAA Division II Football Showcase Full Schedule (all-times eastern) Thursday, Sept. 5, 8:05 p.m. Harding at Ouachita Baptist (ESPN3) Thursday, Sept. 5, 8:05 p.m. Fort Hays State at Central Missouri (Hybrid) Saturday, Sept. 14, 6:05 p.m. Ohio Dominican at Valdosta State (ESPN3) Saturday, Sept. 14, 7:05 p.m. Ferris State at Central Washington (ESPN3) Saturday, Sept. 21, 12:05 p.m. Findlay at Ohio Dominican (ESPN3) Saturday, Sept. 21, 6:05 p.m. Shaw at Chowan (Hybrid) Friday, Sept. 27, 7:05 p.m. New Haven at Bentley (Hybrid) Saturday, Sept. 28, 2:35 pm. Central Oklahoma at Northwest Missouri State (Hybrid) Saturday, Oct. 5, 2:05 p.m. Lindenwood (Missouri) at McKendree (Hybrid) Saturday, Oct. 5, 3:05 p.m. Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State Mankato (Hybrid) Saturday, Oct. 12, 1:05 p.m. Northern Michigan at Michigan Tech (Hybrid) Saturday, Oct. 12, 7:05 p.m. Midwestern State at Texas A&M-Commerce (ESPN3) Saturday, Oct. 19, 12:05 p.m. West Chester at Shepherd (Hybrid) Saturday, Oct. 19, 2:05 p.m. Benedict at Albany State (Georgia) (ESPN3) Saturday, Oct. 26, 2:05 p.m. West Georgia at West Alabama (ESPN3) Saturday, Nov. 2, 12:05 p.m. Charleston (West Virginia) at West Virginia State (Hybrid) Saturday, Nov. 2, 2:05 p.m. Wingate at Lenoir-Rhyne (ESPN3) Saturday, Nov. 2, 5:05 p.m. Texas A&M-Commerce at West Texas A&M (ESPN3) Saturday, Nov. 9 To be determined Saturday, Nov. 16 To be determined.

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