NORFOLK, VA — Almost as soon as Keshia Campbell took over as SC State Acting AD, she started seeing posts and chatter about the 2023 matchup with Florida A&M.
“I first saw it on Facebook. People kept putting out that we were playing FAMU 2023 on Facebook. So I go in the gridiron (scheduling system) and I’m logging in — and had to request to log in. So when I finally get in, I don’t see the FAMU game there,” Campbell told HBCU Gameday in an exclusive interview.
Campbell, who was named acting AD at SC State in August after Stacy Danley was dismissed, reached out to FAMU. FAMU was under the guidance of interim AD Michael Smith at the time, prior to the hire of new VP of Intercollegiate Athletics Tiffani-Dawn Sykes.
“There may have been a conversation possibly, but there was never anything in writing that they even went as far as checking with our General Counsel’s office because all of our games have to be contracted outside of conference (play). So there was no record of that. So once AD Sykes was on board I reached out to her and said, Hey, let’s, let’s see if we can get a game scheduled.”
The two schools, whose relationship goes back to both’s days in the SIAC prior to the founding of the MEAC, managed to agree to a home-and-home series to kick off in 2024.
“That was never the case. But we look forward to having those relationships continue in those relationships, because for us, it was natural to play FAMU and Bethune. So we are trying to ensure that we keep them on the schedule. We’re also going to be probably looking at some other SWAC schools as well.”
Scheduling is a pressing issue for Keshia Campbell and SC State, as well as the rest of the MEAC — when it comes to football season. With just six football-playing members and 11 games per year, the current members play more non-conference games than conference opponents.
“It is difficult having only five opponents in the MEAC playing football. We need some people to come back to the MEAC. It would be lovely to welcome some Pirates and some Aggies back to the MEAC,” Campbell said with a grin. “Just giving them a shout-out. And we can welcome some (Winston-Salem State) Rams too.”
There are many people in and around the conference that would love for that to happen. For now, Campbell is doing her best to guide her alma mater while she’s in charge of its athletic programs. She has a deep-seeded love for the place that began when she was recruited as a standout basketball player by Willie J. Simon.
“I did take a visit to the University of South Carolina and some other Division I schools, but my heart was with South Carolina State,” Campbell remembered. “And I really it was really connected to Coach Simon. I cried like a baby when he left, but I really was connected to him initially. But then the nurturing that I received at South Carolina State was second to none.”
Campbell went on to get into coach and eventually athletic administration. She served as AD at Hampton University as well as a stint in the CIAA office. Now that she’s home, she’s hoping to provide a similar experience for the next generation of athletes and turn them into proud alumni.
I’m hoping that we can develop some of those same stories with among our students and student athletes. We have some amazing alumni. I always tell people, if you put South Carolina State on your schedule, we travel deep, hard hit, meaning we’re going to buy your tickets.