Pictured: Jackson State University football athletes holding onto the 2021 SWAC Football Championship trophy on December 4th at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy of HCF Media.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – General admission tickets for the 2022 Cricket SWAC Football Championship Presented by Pepsi went on sale Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9:00 a.m. CST.

Jackson State University, the defending SWAC Champions and the SWAC’s Eastern Division Champions for the second straight consecutive year, will host the league’s championship game Saturday, Dec. 3 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium at 3:00 p.m. JSU’s opponent as Western Divisions Champion is still to be determined.

The Cricket SWAC Football Championship Presented by Pepsi coverage is part of HCF’s Annual Football and Recruitment Tour each year. The game is considered as the post coverage game for the tour.

Tickets and parking can be purchased online at gojsutigers.com/tickets and at The Vet Ticket Office from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

General public reserved tickets will go on sale Monday, November 21 at 9:00 a.m. Email jsuticketoffice@jsums.edu or call 601-354-6021 for more information.

Ticket Office Hours:
Nov. 15th – 18th and Nov. 21-22:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 
Nov. 23-25: Closed For Thanksgiving
Nov. 28-Dec. 2: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

About SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently ranks among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams.

Current championship competition offered by the league includes competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, and Tennis.

Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, and Volleyball.
 
Follow the SWAC
For complete coverage of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, please follow the SWAC on social media at @TheSWAC (Twitter), @TheSWAC (Facebook), and @TheSWAC (Instagram) or visit the official home of the Southwestern Athletic Conference at www.swac.org.

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has announced that it will host its annual SWAC Football Media Day on Thursday, July 21 at 10:00 a.m. CST at the Sheraton-Birmingham.

2021 SWAC Media Day. Photo courtesy of HCF Media Relations.

The event will be streamed live on ESPN3 with football commentators Tiffany Greene and Jay Walker teaming up to host the one-day event.

All twelve SWAC head football coaches and two student-athletes from each team will be in attendance to address the media about the upcoming 2022 football season.

A complete listing of the student-athletes slated to be in attendance will be released closer to the event date. Media one-on-one interviews with coaches and student-athletes will begin at 10:00 a.m. CST.

This event is a pre-kickoff to HBCU Campaign Fund’s (HCF) Annual HBCU Football and Recruitment Tour, where members of its media team participates and covers the one-day event.

About SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently ranks among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams.

Current championship completion offered by the league include competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field and Tennis

Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Commissioner Dr. Dennis E. Thomas, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 SWAC Lifetime Achievement Award. Thomas is an alumnus of Alcorn State.

During his collegiate playing career, Thomas was a standout offensive lineman at Alcorn State where he was a two-time Pittsburgh Courier All-American (1972 and 1973), and was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1973 – the first and only offensive lineman to win the award. Thomas was a member of the Braves’ 1970 SWAC championship team, and his team, and his teams went a combined 27-8-1.

He is currently in his 20th year as Commissioner of the MEAC, following a period of nearly two decades that has seen the conference remain financially stable, strengthen institutional compliance and improve student-athlete graduation rates. In the process, he has gained the distinction as one of leading collegiate athletics administrators in America.

The steady leadership of Thomas has reassured the league’s student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans alike that their health and safety take precedence over athletics competitions, in keeping with the MEAC’s motto of “Educating Student-Athletes for the Game of Life.”

The MEAC celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 2020-21, celebrating 50 years since its founding in 1970. Under Thomas’ guidance, the conference continues to be a pacesetter even during a global pandemic.

Thomas is scheduled to be formally recognized at the 2021 SWAC Hall of Fame presented by Pepsi on Friday, December 17th at 6 p.m. CST/7 p.m. EST at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

About the SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently ranks among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams

Current championship competition offered by the league includes competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field and Tennis

Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Chancellor Dr. Laurence Alexander was selected as a member of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum this past fall.

The Presidential Forum is comprised of one president or chancellor from each of the 32 Division I Conferences. The purpose of the forum is to assist the NCAA Division I Board of Directors in accomplishing its strategic mission in the Division I governance structure and help ensure that the NCAA core value involving presidential leadership of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference and national level is achieved.

“University of Arkansas -Pine Bluff Dr. Laurence Alexander has shown a steadfast commitment to the forward progression and advancement of our athletic programs and more specifically the student-athletes within the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.

“We unequivocally feel that NCAA could not have selected a more qualified individual from within the leadership ranks of our conference to assist them with the overall molding and crafting of legislation and strategic initiatives that will significantly impact our membership and the constituents in which they serve,” McClelland added.

“I am honored to be chosen to represent UAPB and the presidents and chancellors of the SWAC on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum,” Alexander said. “I look forward to weighing in with colleagues in providing counsel to the Board on policies and strategics priorities while supporting our students athletes by advancing the opportunities for their success and well-beings.”

Dr. Alexander is in his eighth year as Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an 1890 land-grant research university. Since joining UAPB, Alexander has promoted institutional excellence through initiatives that targeted improved student success outcomes, fostered greater innovation through institutional collaboration, increased research and grant activity, expanded partnerships with business and industry, encouraged efficiency and productivity, cultivated strong connections with alumni and friends, and championed student development and experiential learning.

During his tenure, the university launched several initiatives that significantly improved retention and graduation rates, increased academic programs, research grants, new construction and renovation projects, and reached historic gains in fundraising and development, which included multi-million dollar donations from Simmons Bank and the Windgate Foundation.

Alexander is engaged in various state and national professional organizations, including the Executive Council of the Presidents Council of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Council of University Presidents, and the APLU Council of 1890s Institutions.

Currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Alexander will step into the Chair’s role at the June meeting of the Council. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of ARE-ON Arkansas Research Education Optical Network, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Research Alliance, a group of state research universities and business leaders committed to creating opportunities in the areas of research, commercialization and job creation. He also served as a mentor in the Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute of the American Association of State College and Universities.

A native of New Orleans, Alexander received a bachelor degree in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans, a master’s degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida, a Juris Doctor from Tulane University, and a Ph.D. in higher education from Florida State University.

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About SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently rank among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams.

Current championship competition offered by the league includes competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field and Tennis.

Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball.

For more information, visit www.swac.org.

Dr. James Frank

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – In October of 2020, the NCAA donated $10,000 to establish a scholarship in the name of a devoted alumnus and longtime supporter of collegiate athletics. Dr. James Frank Endowed Scholarship Fund honors the only Lincoln University (MO) alumnus to serve as President of Lincoln University. The scholarship will assist full-time undergraduate students with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Dr. James Frank graduated from Lincoln University in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. An athlete and athletics fan at heart, Frank, a Pennsylvania native, came to Lincoln on a basketball scholarship. After spending time in military service and completing his graduate degree, Frank returned to Lincoln University in 1956 as an assistant professor and assistant basketball coach. He was named Head Basketball Coach in 1959. His academic and career aspirations led him to Springfield College, Hunter College and Medgar Evers College before his return once again to his alma mater as the 14th President of Lincoln University in 1973.

During his Presidency, Frank was active in the NCAA as a committee member, secretary-treasurer and president, marking his place in history as the first African American and first college president to hold those positions. After then years as President of Lincoln University, he became Commissioner of the Southwestern Athletics Conference (SWAC) serving from 1983 until 1998 and again as Interim Commissioner from 2001 to 2002. Frank passed away in January 2019.

“Dr. James Frank was a friend to many, but to Lincoln University, he was family,” said Jerald Jones Woolfolk, President of Lincoln University. “We thank the NCAA for their recognition of Dr. James Frank for his commitment to collegiate athletics and his devotion to Lincoln University.”

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About Lincoln University of Missouri
Lincoln University of Missouri is a historically black, 1890 land-grant, public, comprehensive institution that provides excellent educational opportunities including theoretical and applied learning experiences to a diverse population within a nurturing, student-centered environment. For more information, visit www.lincolnu.edu.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, has announced a three-year sponsorship agreement with Cricket Wireless, who will be the new title sponsor for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Celebration Bowl. Both events, which are staged in Atlanta, celebrate the tradition, legacy and value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“We are delighted to have Cricket Wireless as the title sponsor of both our football kickoff and bowl games,” said John Grant, executive director for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Celebration Bowl. “These events provide valuable diversity to the sports offering in the city of Atlanta. This relationship reflects our mutul passion for and appreciation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the vaulable contributions they make to our nation. We look forward to working together and building world-class events in a world-class city.”

ESPN Events’ relationship with Cricket began with the sponsorship of the 2018 Celebration Bowl. Cricket’s support of HBCUs began with an agreement with Southern University, which eventually expanded to include sponsorship of the Magic City Classic and Bayou Classic. In October 2020, Cricket and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announced a sponsorship agreement extension through 2023.

“At Cricket, we’re all about creating a meaningful connection with our customers and within the communities where we operate,” said Tiffany Baehman, vice president and chief marketing officer, Cricket Wireless. “Our extended relationship with ESPN allows us to continue to introduce our brand to HBCU students, alumni and fans. It also means that we can help amplify the rich culture and legacy of HBCUs, and the positive impact they have on the Black community.

The Cricket Wireless MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff – an early-season matchup of HBCU football teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) – is played at the Georgia State’s Center Parc Credit Union Stadium. The Cricket Celebration Bowl is played each year, with the game typically opening the college bowl season, from Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Due to the current health pandemic, both events were cancelled for the 2020 season, but excepted to return in 2021. Fans can re-live and enjoy last year’s Celebration Bowl between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. Those interesed in joining a virtual watch party can sign up here.

Information regarding the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and Cricket Celebration Bowl can be found at www.meacswacchallenge.com and www.TheCelebrationBowl.com.

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About Cricket Wireless
Cricket is focused on inspiring smiles, one meaningful connection at a time. Cricket offer an easy and high-quality wireless experience on their reliable nationwide network. Their affordable, straightforward service plans include monthly taxes, and don’t require an annual contract. Their customers also enjoy basic to top-brand phones at affordable prices.

Visit www.cricketwireless.com to learn more or find a store near you. Stay up-to-date with the Cricket Newsroom and connect with Cricket on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smile. You’re on Cricket.

About ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes four early-season college football games, 17 college bowl game, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite office in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conference, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The newly renovated H.O. Clemmons Arena at the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will begin a big day of events with the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the renovated H.O. Clemmons Arena Saturday, January 5 at 3 p.m.

The ceremony will be held at the main entrance of the arena prior to the Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s and men’s basketball teams hosting Mississippi Valley State in a basketball doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.

UAPB Chancellor Dr. Laurence B. Alexander and UAPB Athletic Director Melvin Hines will be in attendance, along with Golden Lion basketball coaches Nathaniel Kilbert and George Ivory.

Among the renovations to the arena are:

  • Newly installed bleachers to the UAPB black and gold colors with the Golden Lions logo;
  • A new court with an updated UAPB logo emblazed at center court; gold coloring inside the three-point arc; new UAPB logos on each baseline;
  • New basketball goals featuring the UAPB logo on each basket support.

“We are excited about these improvement to H.O. Clemmons Arena,” said Dr Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor. “I believe this ceremony to open the year will serve as a catalyst to what will be an outstanding 2019 for the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, both athletically and academically.”

“Golden Lion Athletics is grateful for the support provided by Chancellor Alexander, President Bobbitt, and the Board of Trustees,” said Melvin Hines, Director or Athletics. “These renovations improve the student-athlete experience, as our basketball and volleyball teams have new playing accommodations in which they can be proud of. It also enhances the fan experience with new and improved seating to help make the H.O Clemmons Arena one of the toughest venues for visiting teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”

Gates open for entry to the arena following the ceremony prior to tipoff of the women’s game at 5 p.m., with the men’s game to follow in the conference opener for both teams.

PINE BLUFF, AR – On Tuesday, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) announced a $2.5 million gift from Simmons Bank for upgrades to the football and baseball athletics facilities.

According to a press release from the university, the gift is the largest in UAPB history and will fund a new football stadium scoreboard and turf, along with completion of the baseball pavilion at the Tori Hunter Baseball and Softball Complex. The stadium field will be renamed to Simmons Bank Field. The gift is pending UA System Board of Trustees approval at its May 23-24 meeting.

“On behalf of UAPB faculty, staff, students and alumni, I’d like to express our appreciation to Simmons Bank for its generous gift,” said Dr. Lawrence B. Alexander, Chancellor of UAPB. “This donation will directly benefit our student-athletics by assisting them in reaching and exceeding their athletic and academic performance goals.”

Simmons First National Corp., founded in 1903, is one of the largest financial companies based in Arkansas. Simmons Bank’s downtown complex is Pine Bluff’s tallest building.

“Simmons is honored to partner with UAPB to help students excel right here in our hometown of Pine Bluff,” said George A. Makris, Jr., chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corp. “There is nothing more rewarding for our bank than the opportunity to invest in our communities, especially in our young people.”

“We are grateful to Simmons Bank for its long-standing partnership with UAPB, and more specifically, this major gift will allow us to complete much-needed upgrades. These improvements will benefit our student-athletes and create a better fan experience during football and baseball games.”

The new Simmons Bank Pavilion will help to complete construction at the Torii Hunter Complex that opened in 2011. Hunter, a Pine Bluff native and former Major League Baseball player and five-time All-Star selection, previously donated $500,000 for the initial construction of the baseball and softball complex, the largest contribution to UAPB before the Simmons Bank gift.

 

 

 

 

About Simmons Bank

Simmons Banks is an Arkansas state-chartered bank that began as a community bank in 1903. Through the decades, Simmons has developed a full suite of financial products and services designed to meet the needs of individual consumers and business customers alike. Simmons is a subsidiary bank for Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ: SFNC), a publicly traded bank holding company headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. For more information, visit www.simmonsbank.com.

About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings and stellar faculty. For more than 140 years, UAPB has worked to create an environment that inculcates learning, growth and productivity while affording a basic need to its students – a chance to advance. UAPB offers Certificate and Associates degree programs, more than thirty Undergraduate programs, Master’s degree programs and a Doctorate program in Aquaculture/Fisheries. Students are active in more than 100 organizations, an internationally renowned Vesper Choir, Marching Band, Concert Bands, Wind Symphony, nationally recognized debate team, award-winning theater department and accomplished athletic program.

Duer Sharp.

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The long-serving commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) which serves historically black member institutions, Duer Sharp, has resigned this past Thursday amid rumors of potential financial issues and concern among member school presidents about the direction of the conference under his leadership.

According to The Advocate, The SWAC will hold its winter meetings in Houston, where school presidents and chancellors met Thursday morning. Southern director of athletics Roman Banks stated that the council of presidents accepted Sharp’s resignation. But it is unsure whether Sharp’s resignation is effective immediately, or if he will stay in his post throughout the remainder of his contract, which is set to expire this summer.

As of today, the SWAC office has yet to issue a statement regarding Sharp’s future.

Banks stated that there was no official record of who was or was not displeased with Sharp’s performance as commissioner. But Banks said, there was a unanimous concern” about the SWAC stability and the direction the league was taking.

“Also among the concerns was a lack of sponsorships,” Banks said, which “prompted us (Southern) to look around at other leagues.”

 Sharp started with the conference as assistant commissioner in 2004 and has served as commissioner since 2008. Under he leadership, the league secured a spot in the Celebration Bowl opposite the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, and it also orchestrated the move of the league’s football and basketball conference championships to Houston in 2013.
Earlier this year, the SWAC announced that this year’s football conference championship game would be its last.

The decision is believed to be related to the high cost of hosting the game at NRG Stadium in Houston, the home of the Houston Texans. And when combined with an earlier decision to change the league’s scheduling format from a nine-game round-robin schedule to a seven-game schedule, which opened the door for potential chaos when it came to determining a sole champion to represent the SWAC in the Celebration Bowl.

“By focusing on the Celebration Bowl, we can continue to grow (it) as an HBCU classic for the teams and fans of both conferences and for HBCU football nationally,” Sharp said in June.

 Banks said SWAC athletics directors “unanimously agreed” to look at re-instituting the SWAC championship game next season when the conference will still operate with a seven-game schedule

“We need to be fair,” Banks said. “We need to make sure it’s settled on the field.”

Former UAPB head football coach Monte Coleman.

PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Athletics announced Monday that it would not renew the contract of current football head coach Monte Coleman when it expires on December 31, 2017. Coleman has served as head football coach for the Golden Lions since 2008.

According to a press release from the university’s athletics department, the Golden Lions went 40-70 in 10 years under Coleman, including capturing UAPB’s first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference outright championship in 2012 with a 10-2 record. Since that championship season, however, the Golden Lions experienced consecutive losing seasons of 2-9 in 2013, 4-7 in 2014, 2-9 in 2015, and 2-9 this season. Director of Athletics Lonza Hardy Jr. said it was time to make a change and move the program in another direction.

“I thank Coach Coleman and his staff for the hard work they put forth over the years as he tried to build a formidable program at UAPB,” said Hardy. “We wish him all the best as he now looks to the next chapter in his career. As for UAPB, it was simply time for us to make a change and start the process of returning Golden Lion football to prominence.”

UAPB alumni were fiery over the continuous football losing steak and were seeking moves from athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr., with the potential of a new coaching staff in the change of a better program for the upcoming seasons. They took their anger, frustration, and thoughts to social media in hopes that the administration jerk in making adjustments.

A search commitment has been formed and has the goal of naming a new head coach prior to the start of the December holiday break. Until then, Ted White, offensive coordinator, will oversee the program. The assistant coaching staff will remain intact and continue the program’s recruitment efforts.

“Our search committee will identify and interview prospective coaches who are committed to the mission and vision of our University, the welfare of our student-athletics, both academically and athletically, and have innovative ideas and game strategies. We need someone who will put a premium on winning consistently,” said Hardy.

For any questions or concerns, please contact UAPB Sports Information Director Habtom Keleta at (870) 575-7949.