ESPN Events announced Tuesday a new six-year agreement with the MEAC and SWAC that will continue the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff football game and the postseason Celebration Bowl.
“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with these two incredible conferences,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events. “The Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Cricket Celebration Bowl have been mainstays on our Events roster, and we’ve seen tremendous growth for these storied games. We look forward to their continued success, and celebrating HBCU football for years to come.”
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The Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff began in 2005 and is now annually scheduled during ESPN’s Week 0 college football programming. This year’s matchup on Saturday, Aug. 28, at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta will feature North Carolina Central vs. Alcorn State in primetime on ESPN. Future matchups include Alabama State vs. Howard (2022), South Carolina State vs. Jackson State (2023), and Florida A&M vs. Norfolk State (2024).
“This new deal reaffirms ESPN’s commitment to supporting HBCU college football in a real and meaningful way,” said John T. Grant, executive director of the Kickoff and Celebration Bowl. “Positioning the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff to week 0 brings national focus to Atlanta for the opening weekend of the college football season, as well as the start of Bowl Season with the Cricket Celebration Bowl. We’re looking forward to starting and ending the season with high energy and excitement around these two games.”
The Cricket Celebration Bowl, in its seventh year, will be played Saturday, Dec. 18, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The postseason bowl game will feature conference champions from the MEAC and SWAC.