It was announced today that the Walt Disney World Resort will serve as a presenting sponsor of the MEAC-SWAC Challenge, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, featuring teams from two prominent HBCU (Historically Black College/University) leagues — Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). This year, the event moves to Orlando and will showcase a college football match-up between the MEAC’s Hampton University and the SWAC’s Jackson State University on Labor Day Weekend, Sunday, Aug. 31, live at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2, from the Florida Citrus Bowl. The first three years, the game was played at Legion Field in Birmingham , Ala.

“We are excited to be a sponsor of this game that will bring a new event to the Florida Citrus Bowl and have a positive economic impact on Central Florida,” said Eugene Campbell, Vice President of Community Relations and Minority Business Development for Walt Disney World Resort. “We have a long history of supporting the African-American community and we’re proud to build on this legacy by supporting the 25 historically black colleges and universities in the Mid-Eastern and Southwestern Athletic Conferences.”

As part of the festivities, former Grambling State player, coach and NFL quarterback Doug Williams will serve as keynote speaker at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff Banquet on Friday, Aug. 29, at Walt Disney World Resort.

“It’s great that the City of Orlando and Walt Disney World have stepped up to the plate to bring two historically black colleges and universities to play this game,” said Williams, now a personnel executive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “For these programs to get an opportunity to showcase their institutions on a national platform like ESPN is wonderful.”

Added Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ERT: “We are truly honored to have the support of the Walt Disney World Resort as a presenting sponsor and HBCU football legend Doug Williams, as we work toward the establishment and growth of this event in a great city such as Orlando . This year’s match-up will further illustrate the great talent, quality and culture of MEAC and SWAC football to a national audience on ESPN2.”

Hampton and Jackson State have met twice before, with Hampton having won both games in 2004 and 2005.

Jackson State earned its 16th SWAC championship last season with a 42-31 win over the Grambling State . The title game, televised on ESPN Classic, was the second most attended game under the SWAC’s current championship game format. It was JSU head coach Rick Comegy’s first SWAC title.

“I am happy that our team has the opportunity to participate in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge,” said JSU head coach Rick Comegy. “It will mean great exposure for Jackson State and our football program, as well as the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi . I think we will come out ready to play and have a good showing for the game.”

After three consecutive MEAC championships, Hampton , making its second appearance in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge, went 6-5 in 2007. The Pirates are under the reign of first-year head coach Jerry Holmes, who began his coaching career as the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Hampton from 1992 to 1994. During those three, Hampton posted a 31-4-1 record, winning three consecutive CIAA championships, making two trips to the NCAA playoffs and capturing the 1994 Black College National Championship.

“To be given the opportunity to play in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge on national television is a great honor for our players, the coaches and the entire University because it is a chance for Hampton to represent the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference,” said head coach Jerry Holmes. “It says a lot when you are picked out of all the other great teams to represent the conference. The team takes a lot of pride and we look forward to facing Jackson State this year in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge.”

Each year, the game pits a MEAC team against a SWAC member at a neutral site within the footprint of one of the conferences. The inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge in 2005 showcased the MEAC’s South Carolina State vs. Alabama State of the SWAC, with South Carolina State prevailing, 27-14. In 2006, the contest went into overtime with the MEAC’s Hampton University defeating the SWAC’s Grambling State , 27-26. Last year, the SWAC earned its first MEAC/SWAC Challenge trophy as Southern defeated Florida A&M, 33-27. Teams for future games are determined on an annual basis.

For more information about the MEAC-SWAC Challenge, please visit www.meacswacchallenge.com.



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