ATLANTA–After a one-year hiatus, you can count on the Celebration Bowl and MEAC/SWAC Challenge for another six years. ESPN Events announced today that it has signed a new, six-year agreement with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference for its two signature HBCU events.
“We are elated to extend our agreement with the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and the Cricket Celebration Bowl. These are events which showcase the rich tradition of football and the pageantry that surrounds the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC),” said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas.
The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is also moving up one week and into prime time coverage. This year’s game, and all games moving forward, will be in Week 0 for college football. North Carolina Central will take on Alcorn State on Saturday, August 28 in the 2021 matchup. Future matchups include Alabama State vs. Howard (2022), South Carolina State vs. Jackson State (2023), and Florida A&M vs. Norfolk State (2024).
“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is extremely excited to extend our agreement with ESPN Events for the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff and the Cricket Celebration Bowl. This relationship provides an extremely unique opportunity for us to showcase our membership and the outstanding student-athletes and programs from within our conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.
A first for First Take
This summer’s game will have a little extra flair with one of ESPN’s signature shows broadcasting on site. First Take, featuring Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose, will be live on Friday, Aug. 27, in Atlanta. The broadcast and game will be held at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. It’s the former home of the Atlanta Braves and current stadium for Georgia State University.
“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.