The 2021 Southern Heritage Classic featured the Jackson State Tigers and the Tennessee State Tigers, two programs led by former NFL legends in Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and former All-Pro running back Eddie George.
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) February 2, 2022
In front of a raucous crowd of 46,171 at the Liberty Bowl, JSU defeated TSU 38-16 last season. Game and final score aside, this was more about the event returning after a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19.
Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders and legendary running back Eddie George met for the first time as coaches in one of the most iconic games in HBCU football https://t.co/C6pWem3HOH
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) September 12, 2021
Hope you enjoyed that matchup, because it won’t happen again anytime soon, as the JSU Tigers have pulled out of the next three games, in effect canceling their three-year agreement with the classic, which ran until 2024.
Can you say breach of contract? That’s what this looks like, and it’s highly plausible JSU won’t get off that easy.
— 929ESPN (@929espn) February 2, 2022
Fred Jones, founder of the classic told the Clarion-Ledger:
“As far as right now, they said they want to terminate the agreement. That’s all we have right now. There will be a response back from us to the lawyer later today.”
We are kicking off Black History Month with the Southern Heritage Classic. Read about how we got started in our latest newsletter, https://t.co/WNOli7rPyp #ClassicMemphis #SHC #morethanagame #itsacelebration https://t.co/wSbRRbV4VD pic.twitter.com/9N75CZc4Ci
— Southern Heritage Classic (@ClassicMemphis) February 1, 2022
Reportedly, the SWAC has entered into another agreement which will conflict with their agreement to have Jackson State participate in the Southern Heritage Classic.
“On or about Nov 8, 2019, Jackson State University entered into the Southern Heritage Agreement with Summit Management Corporation relating to JSU’s participation in the Southern Heritage Classic,” JSU general counsel Edward Waters said in a letter.
Since that time, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which is JSU’s governing athletic alliance, has entered into an agreement in which JSU will participate in events that conflict with the Southern Heritage Classic.”
Tennessee State President Glenda Glover issued a statement following the surprising development. She called the move “irresponsible” and “insensitive.”
The Tigers are upset that they found out via a national scheduler. Also, that there was no communication with TSU brass before such an impactful decision was made.
Tennessee State University issues statement on Jackson State University pulling out of the Southern Heritage Classic, one of the most attended HBCU classic in the country. Read statement here. pic.twitter.com/d3o1Bw2kUg
— Tennessee State University (@TSUedu) February 3, 2022
Southern Heritage Classic Is A Premiere HBCU Event: It’s Effect Stretches Far And Wide In Memphis
It’s hard to fathom the amount of money the area and event stands to lose with JSU backing out. We saw the impact that Deion Sanders and the JSU football program being good had on the Jackson, Mississippi. In 2019 the city’s football-related revenue was $16 million. That jumped to $30 million in 2021.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) December 7, 2021
With an estimated 75,000 people in Memphis expected in and around Memphis for the festivities, plus an average of 45,000 fans at the Liberty Bowl for the game, businesses all around were expected to thrive. Now that’s up in the air with the main attraction not participating anymore.
Now Fred Jones and the classic will have to scramble to find a replacement to secure those three years. But again, Coach Prime and Jackson State are must-see, box-office level, and without them the game and event loses a lot of its luster.
The two programs have faced one another 28 times since 1990, with TSU holding a (17-11) lead.
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