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12/14/2010 - Jackson, Miss.

Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher EducationDear Editor:

In the midst of tough times, it is wonderful to have great news to celebrate. The Delta State University Statesmen have once again earned the chance to play for the NCAA Division II National Champion title! The Statesmen (11-3) will face the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (14-0) in the NCAA Division II National Championship game on Saturday, December 18 at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala. Kickoff is slated for 10 a.m. and ESPN2 will broadcast the event.

The Statesmen, 2000 NCAA Division II champions, defeated Shepherd University (12-2) 29-17 to advance to the championship game, while the Bulldogs, 2008 champions, beat Northwest Missouri State 17-13. Delta State’s appearance in the championship game was not completely expected or considered a sure thing. With this 2010 Division II Football Championship Game appearance, Delta State becomes the first unranked team to reach the title game. With an 8-3 record at the end of the regular season, the Statesmen received votes but were not nationally ranked. However, the team proved the old adage that when times get tough, the tough get going. DSU knocked off unranked North Alabama, fifth-ranked Albany State and 18th-ranked Shepherd in the playoffs to gain a chance to compete for the national trophy.

The Statesmen’s accomplishments on and off the field are a credit to the dedication and commitment of the student athletes, Head Coach Ron Roberts and his coaching staff, and other faculty and staff members at Delta State University. Having a stellar season capped with a return trip to the National Championship Game is no easy feat. It takes strength, determination and a never-say-die attitude. The Statesmen are a credit to Delta State University, our university system and our state. I am very proud of the team and its success.

In addition to garnering positive national attention for the state, the Statesmen also helped spur our state’s economic recovery by bringing thousands to Cleveland to watch Delta State defeat Shepherd University to advance to the title game. They are giving our state national exposure on ESPN2. The team deserves our congratulations and our support as they head to Florence to take on the Bulldogs.

Tickets for the game are on sale now at Chadwick-Dickson Athletic Field House. All tickets are $20 for reserved seats. DSU will have the home side of Braly Municipal Stadium. For ticket information, please call the DSU Ticket Office at (662) 846-4300. If you cannot attend the game, but would like to wish them well as they leave campus to prepare for the game, the university is also inviting the community to help cheer on the Statesmen as they depart from the Chadwick-Dickson Athletic Field House at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 15. The Field House is located next to McCool Stadium.

This team, their coaches and staff have made Mississippi proud! I hope you will join me in supporting the team by cheering them on at the send-off ceremony, attending the game or watching the game on ESPN2. Go Statesmen!

Hank M. Bounds
Commissioner of Higher Education

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