|The Labor Day Classic between Norfolk State and Virgina State. (Flikr photo)|
It appears that a fifty year HBCU tradition will come to an end in 2013. The Virginian Pilot reports that Norfolk State and Virginia State will be forced to part ways this fall due to NCAA rules.
The rule in question prohibits Division II teams, which Virginia State is, from playing it’s first contest with outside competition proceeding the Thursday before Sept 8. The rule has been in place since 2010, however CIAA schools were temporarily granted a waiver due to a loss of conference schools.
VSU claims it only realized the annual game against its former CIAA rival was in violation of NCAA bylaw this past fall. As a result, both teams will have to find games to replace the scheduled contest for 2013 and 2014.
“It’s put us in a tough spot,” NSU athletic director Marty Miller said. “It’s caused us to scramble a little bit. We’re… having discussions with a couple of schools, working hard and trying to come up with a replacement.”
The loss will weigh heavily on Virginia State, as they were due to receive $50,000 from Norfolk State.
The two teams have maintained their gridiron rivalry since 1962, despite the fact that Norfolk is now a Division I member of the MEAC. In recent years, however, the rivarly has become rather one-sided. Norfolk State has won the past six games in convincing fashion, winning by an average of over 27 points a game.
Still, the game is one of the most well-attended for the Spartans as it has drawn an average of over 20,000 fans to Dick Price Stadium.
As disappointing as it may be for the fans, students and alumni of the two schools, many have felt it was inevitable for years. The distinction between NCAA classifications at HBCUs has become increasingly wide as Division I schools like Norfolk seek to improve their potential playoff seedings against other FCS schools.
We’ve already seen the burgeoning rivalry between North Carolina A&T and Winston-Salem State snuffed out after WSSU’s move back to Division II. Now the Labor Day Classic is gone. Expect more of the same in the future.