JSU withdraws from Southern Heritage Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The highly attended and much-anticipated annual rivalry football game between the Tigers of Jackson State University and the Tigers of Tennessee State University may have come to an end.

Jackson State University announced its withdrawal from the Southern Heritage Classic Wednesday.

JSU entered into an agreement with Summitt Management Corporation related to JSU’s participation in the Southern Heritage Classic in November 2019.

A letter from JSU’s general counsel states, “Since that time the Southwestern Athletic Conference, JSU’s governing athletic conference has entered into an agreement in which JSU’s will participate in events that will conflict with the Southern Heritage Classic Agreement. Said conflict prevents JSU’s participation in the Southern Heritage Classic.”

The Southern Heritage Classic began in Memphis in 1990. Before then, the two teams played each other at their respective schools.

The game also featured the Battle of the Bands, with JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South and TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands both performing at half-time.

Late Wednesday evening, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover released a statement on JSU withdrawing.

Jackson State University’s announcement that their football team will no longer play in the Southern Heritage Classic is an insensitive and irresponsible act that has far-reaching implications and goes beyond football. The Classic is about more than TSU, JSU, our alumni and fans.

The Memphis business community, including small Black-owned businesses, many of which are mom and pop businesses, will suffer incalculable damage. These businesses rely on contracts that are generated as a result of activities associated with the game, and purchase supplies and other items in preparation for this annual event.

What’s even more disappointing is that there was no opportunity for discussion or a courtesy call to the TSU president, director of athletics, or head coach before the decision was made to breach the contract which has three years remaining. TSU found out from a national scheduler.