Wildcats Affirm Commitment to Football Program - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wildcats Affirm Commitment to Football Program

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. (Jan. 20) -- The Central Washington University Wildcats are looking ahead to their 2009 football season.

"We are fully committed to our sponsorship of football as a Division II program," says Jack Bishop, CWU director of athletics. "We will continue to offer the opportunity for student-athletes to come to Central to get a quality education and to compete in football at the highest level possible."

The Wildcats will remain in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), which previously operated successfully as a four-team football conference from 2001 to 2005. The teams making up the GNAC are Central, Western Oregon University, Utah's Dixie State and California's Humboldt State.

"While the cancellation of the program at Western Washington University leaves a significant two-game void in the Wildcats' pending 2009 schedule, I have confidence in the program at CWU and the GNAC," says CWU President James Gaudino. "I look forward to another winning season for the Wildcats and look forward to being a part of the excitement next season."

The cancellation of football at WWU also means the discontinuation of the annual Battle in Seattle, the event that pitted the two rivals against each other at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Since its inception in 2003, the Battle grew in popularity each year among alumni and fans. Of the past six Battles, Central walked away with the victory the last four consecutive games.

According to Bishop, football has been the most successful athletics program at CWU in the past 10 years. The football team has won more than 65 percent of its games for a record of 71 wins and 38 losses since becoming a member of the NCAA Division II program prior to the 1999 gridiron campaign. Of the eight universities in Washington that sponsor football, Central has the second-highest winning percentage during that span.

Since the inception of the football program at CWU, Wildcat football teams have had a .594 winning percentage, with 31 conference championships and the 1995 NAIA Co-national Championship. The program has also qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs each of the past two years and has two National Football League prospects among its 2008 senior class.