Harding University team heads to first-ever NCAA Division II national football championship

SEARCYArk. (Dec. 12, 2023) — The No. 3-ranked Harding Bisons, riding an 18-game winning streak, take on Colorado School of Mines, on a 14-game winning streak, Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney, Texas. It will be Harding's first national championship appearance in any sport since joining the NCAA in 1997 and the state’s first Division II school to advance to this stage.

“It is truly remarkable to see our University achieve this historic milestone for our state,” said Dr. Mike Williams, president of Harding University. “We are proud of the dedication shown by our student-athletes, coaching staff and the entire Harding community. This is a once-in-a-century day at Harding University.”

Harding is making its eighth playoff appearance and has nine of the 11 playoff wins ever recorded by Great American Conference teams. In its semifinal win over Lenoir-Rhyne, Harding broke the NCAA Division II single-season rushing record with 5,659 yards. With 341 rushing yards in the championship game, Harding would become the first NCAA team ever with 6,000 rushing yards in a season.

“I am crazy proud of the way that these young men have battled this fall and how much they have sacrificed to be in the position that they are in,” said Paul Simmons, head football coach. “Their success this fall is an awesome testament to what can happen when a group of men truly love each other and are willing to commit on a really deep level.”

The public is invited to join the Harding community and Mayor Mat Faulkner for a spirit-filled Glow-n-Go team sendoff at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13., in front of Harding’s First Security Stadium.

As the University simultaneously celebrates its fall commencement this weekend, provost Marty Spears is set to hold a special ceremony in Texas honoring the academic achievements of 14 Bison football team members in the class of 2023.

The weekend is packed with events for Harding fans. On Friday, Dec. 15, Harding will host a pep rally and reunion reception from 7-10 p.m. at the Sheraton McKinney, located at 1900 Gateway Blvd., McKinney, Texas, 75070. A tailgate packed with events begins at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16 at the McKinney ISD Stadium & Community Event Center, located at 4201 S. Hardin Blvd., McKinney, Texas, 75070.

To purchase $20 general admission tickets for the national championship game or find information about how to watch the game via livestream, visit HardingSports.com. For more Harding event information, contact Heather Kemper at hkemper@harding.edu.

About Harding University

Harding University is a private Christian, liberal arts university located in Searcy, Arkansas. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and celebrating its centennial year, it is the largest private university in the state. Harding’s student body represents students from across the U.S. and more than 50 nations and territories. The University offers more than 110 undergraduate majors; 14 preprofessional programs; more than 40 graduate and professional programs; as well as numerous study abroad opportunities including locations in Australasia, Peru, Europe, Greece, Italy and Zambia. For more information, visit Harding.edu.

Topics: Athletics

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