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IPFL champs join NIFL

by Paul Reeths
November 9, 2001 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL)

IPFL champs join NIFL

by Paul Reeths

Knoxville, TN. - The 2001 Indoor Professional Football League champion Tennessee ThunderCats announced Friday they will join the one-year-old National Indoor Football League. The move comes several weeks after a similar one by the Omaha Beef, another former IPFL franchise.

"This is a very exciting time for our team," said George Lemon, president of the Tennessee ThunderCats. "The ThunderCats are here to stay. We have said that from the very beginning. We believe in this league and are looking forward to the 2002 season."

The Knoxville-based franchise will play in the league's Eastern Division in 2002. Other teams in the East include Johnstown, PA; Wheeling, WV; Winston-Salem, NC; and Huntington, WV.

"We are absolutely trilled that the Tennessee ThunderCats are joining the NIFL," said Carolyn Shiver, president of the league. "This is a great match and we are anticipating a successful future."

Lemon said he also expects the IPFL's St. Louis Renegades to join the NIFL, though no official notice has come from St. Louis. The IPFL, which played with four teams in 2001, has all but folded following its fourth season. Of the surviving league franchises - Tennessee, Omaha, St. Louis and Boise - all but Boise are expected to join the NIFL by next season.

"The addition of the Thundercats to the NIFL also shows that the league itself is growing stronger in its second year," added Shiver. "Seventeen of the eighteen teams from our first season are returning, and the Bismarck Roughriders, the Winston-Salem Energy, and the Omaha Beef have been added to our league roster. The Thundercats will bring the number of teams in the league up to 21, with other expansion teams expected to join the league before the season begins. The league is strong, and this addition only makes us stronger."

The NIFL is based in Lafayette, La. The league is in its second year of existence, and its season runs from late March to early August. A handful of IPFL teams, including one owned by Shiver, broke away from the IPFL to form the NIFL last season.

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National Indoor Football League Stories from November 9, 2001

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