Jacksonville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - For the second straight year, the team on the verge of earning the Pioneer Football League's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs has had to forfeit that opportunity.
On Friday, Jacksonville University voluntarily withdrew from eligibility for the PFL title and consideration for the FCS postseason as a result of its internal review of compliance matters regarding the league's financial aid rules. The Dolphins are tied for first place and would have earned at least a share of the title and the automatic bid with a win over Campbell on Saturday.
In a similar situation last season, San Diego withdrew from PFL title contention two days before it could have clinched the playoff bid over concerns that the way it awarded need-based financial aid to football players was incompatible with PFL rules.
Ironically, San Diego is now in line to earn this year's PFL title and playoff bid with a win over Valparaiso on Saturday. USD and Jacksonville were tied for the PFL lead with 6-1 records, although Jacksonville owned the tiebreaker over the Toreros because of a win in their head-to-head matchup.
The PFL said Jacksonville's independent audit was conducted in response to a conference survey which revealed a number of financial aid inconsistencies. The league added the process is ongoing and final resolution of the matter is not expected before spring.
In San Diego's case from last season, the PFL did not impose additional sanctions beyond the university's voluntary removal from the league championship race.