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Courtesy: Jackson State Athletics Media
Jackson State, Tennessee State remain committed to Southern Heritage Classic
Courtesy: Jackson State Athletics Media  
Release: 07/27/2013
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By Marlon W. Morgan (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

As founder of the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx, president Fred Jones has the task of ensuring the future of one of the premier college football events among historically black colleges and universities can be tireless and exhausting.

But his job got a lot easier last year when Jackson State and Tennessee State both agreed to a five-year contract extension, guaranteeing their participation through 2019.

Not only does Jones not have to worry about securing teams to play, but the stability of Classic, which will be played for the 24th time on Sept. 14 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, is a key selling point to the game's sponsors.

"I think sponsors like to plan long term and they like continuity," Jones said after Thursday's annual Southern Heritage Classic Sponsors Summit at Harrah's Mid-South Convention Center in Tunica. "That's the one thing you see with the Classic is continuity. People know what they're going to get.

"When the schools commit, it just settles everything down and then you can go to work and do the other things you have to do."

For TSU and JSU, it was a no-brainer to continue their annual rivalry on the second Saturday of September. TSU has played in every game since its inception in 1990, while JSU has played in all but two of the games, including the last 19.

The participants have received a combined $8.6 million since 1990.

"We wanted to continue to be a part of it," JSU athletic director Vivian Fuller said. "It also helps fund our athletic programs, to award scholarships to student-athletes. So it's been an intricate part of Jackson State. We want to continue that."

Both schools also use the Classic as a means to recruit the Memphis area for prospective students. That's a primary objective for new TSU president Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, a Memphis native and TSU alum who will be inaugurated as the school's eighth president in October.

"Events like the Southern Heritage Classic are very important because our corporate sponsors, the dollars that they give is transcended back to us in the form of scholarships," said Kelli Sharpe, TSU assistant vice president of public relations and communications. "It helps us recruit and retain our students.

"It's not just about Jackson State or Tennessee State. It's about the livelihood of HBCUs and letting people know that we are alive and well and doing great things."


About the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx
The Southern Heritage Classic, featuring Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, is the premier sports and entertainment event in Memphis and is produced by SMC Entertainment. Established in 1990, the Southern Heritage Classic was founded byFred Jones Jr., a veteran of the national entertainment industry. For more information about the Southern Heritage Classic, visit online at

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