The yearly event, which features teams from two prominent Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) leagues, will be aired on an ESPN network, which will be announced, along with a kickoff time, at a later date.
The seventh annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge will be the first meeting between Bethune-Cookman and Prairie View A&M, and also the first time the programs will be participating in the event. Bethune-Cookman is having one of its most successful years as the Wildcats are 9-0 with two games remaining on their schedule and the team is ranked in the top 10 of several polls. Prairie View A&M holds a record of 5-4, also with two games left on its schedule.
Each year, the game pits a MEAC team against a SWAC opponent at a neutral site located within the footprint of one of the conferences. Several additional events will take place around the game, including a high school career panel and the halftime Battle of the Bands.
“We are excited to continue the tradition that this event is building as it affords us the opportunity to showcase HBCU football and pageantry on a national stage as well as impact countless lives with our community initiatives,” said Nikki Godfrey, executive director, MEAC/SWAC Challenge. “We look forward to a great football matchup in the first meeting for two great programs – Bethune-Cookman and Prairie View A&M.”
“As a company committed to diversity, we are proud to sponsor the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney and continue our support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Eugene Campbell, vice president of minority business development for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and fans of these great schools to what promises to be a weekend of outstanding football at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium and magical memories at Walt Disney World Resort.”
The inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge in 2005 showcased the MEAC’s South Carolina State against Alabama State of the SWAC, with South Carolina State taking the 27-14 win. The 2006 contest featured an overtime game with the MEAC’s Hampton defeating the SWAC’s Grambling State 27-26. In 2007, the SWAC won the series for the first time, as Southern beat Florida A&M 33-27.
The 2008 event moved from Birmingham’s Historic Legion Field to its current home of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. The MEAC reclaimed the MEAC/SWAC Challenge crown, as Hampton topped Jackson State 17-13. For the fourth time in five years, the MEAC prevailed again. South Carolina won 34-31 in the closing minutes over Grambling State. In last year’s challenge, Southern won the SWAC’s second crown, beating Delaware State 37-27.
“We are pleased that the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney will feature the MEAC’s Bethune-Cookman University against the SWAC’s Prairie View University,” said Dennis Thomas, MEAC commissioner. “It is a great event that gives our student-athletes, coaches and institutions an opportunity to participate in a first class event while gaining national television exposure. I am pleased about renewing this great partnership with Disney and ESPN and encourage all MEAC fans and the entire Central Florida Community to come out, support and see a great football game.”
“The SWAC is excited to have Prairie View A&M represent the league for the first time at the 2011 MEAC/SWAC Challenge,” said Duer Sharp, SWAC commissioner. “It is a testament to the excellent coaching job Henry Frazier and his staff have done in leading the Panthers back among the elite teams in HBCU football. The support that PV fans have shown through this resurgence has been impressive, and I expect to see a lot of purple and gold in Florida to open the season next year. As always, the SWAC is grateful of the tremendous support given this game by ESPN, Disney Resorts and the City of Orlando.”
The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN. For more information about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, or to join the event’s following on Facebook and Twitter, please visit the event’s official Web site at www.meacswacchallenge.com.
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