the most unique conferences in all of collegiate athletics is the Collegiate
Sprint Football League which, until the 1998 season, had been known as the
Eastern Lightweight Football League. The Eastern Lightweight Football League was
founded in 1934 as the Eastern 150-pound Football League. The seven charter
members were: Cornell, Lafayette, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Rutgers, Villanova
Lafayette and Yale left the league just prior to World War II and were replaced
by Navy (1946) and Army (1957). Columbia was a participant from 1955 through
1976. Rutgers left the league prior to 1990, lowering ELFL membership to its
current format of five teams. With athletic budgets under tight constraints
across the country, lightweight football has proven to be a sport that requires
much less financial support than other programs, yet it provides a competitive
outlet for upwards of 100 athletes at each school.
The league was originally founded as a means of encouraging football among
lighter athletes. Today, it gives anyone interested in playing football an
opportunity to do so at the collegiate level. No lightweight football player
receives a scholarship. The game is a fast-paced, action filled affair that has
grown in popularity and attracts good crowds at each school.
Four days before a game, all players must weigh in at 172.0 pounds and weigh in
again two days before the game at 172.0 pounds. If players do not meet both
standards, they are ineligible for that week’s game. When the league was
founded, the weight limit was set at 150 lbs. and later increased to 158 lbs. in
1967. In 1996, the limit was increased to 165, and elevated to 172 lbs. in 2005.
The athletics directors of the ELFL voted to officially change the name to the
Collegiate Sprint Football League in the summer of 1998. This change coincided
with a renewed effort by the league to seek expansion opportunities. Consistent
with this goal, the athletics directors also approved “open” competition, which
would allow colleges to add sprint football on the varsity or non varsity level
and compete in the league. The League will expand to six full-time members
beginning in 2008 with the addition of Mansfield University (Pa.).