NFL-HBCU Partnership Will Include Summit at Celebration Bowl


AFR-CelebrationBowl_Logo-FINAL-Transparent NFL-Logo

Partnership to include a summit at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

The NFL is partnering with two preeminent Historically Black College & Universities (HBCU) athletic conferences – the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) – to increase opportunities for ethnic minorities – both professionals and students – interested in pursuing careers in football administration, the league announced today.

The goal is to provide qualified individuals with the preparation and skills needed to secure employment in professional football administration.

“Our partnership with the MEAC and SWAC is not only important for our pipeline of qualified individuals at all levels of football, but also to improve the NFL’s goals for diversity and inclusion,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT.  “With this partnership, we are making steady progress in developing future coaches, officials, scouts, managers, front office personnel and others through effective football resources, educational programs and internships.”

In addition to the NFL providing much-needed support to academic and athletic endeavors, MEAC and SWAC personnel will benefit from programs that include internships at the club and league level, integration of their football operations staff – including athletic trainers, video directors and equipment managers – into existing NFL platforms such as the Regional Combines, and networking and mentorship opportunities.

“We are elated to continue our partnership with the National Football League, which includes our current officiating involvement, to advancing the NFL’s diversity and inclusion initiatives with a strategic plan to increase diversity in all areas of employment at the league office and the clubs,” said Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner DENNIS THOMAS.  “The MEAC is pleased to work collaboratively with the NFL to achieve its diversity and inclusion goals.”

A summit at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl – the annual game between the champions of the MEAC and SWAC, won by North Carolina A&T last season – will feature panel discussions for student athletes competing in the game featuring NFL and club personnel who have played college football introducing the players to non-playing opportunities in pro football.

Top sports management students from the competing universities along with entry-level athletic department administrators will attend a separate NFL-themed panel.

“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is excited to partner with the NFL and MEAC to ensure that our student-athletes and students have exposure to superior professional development and the different career contingencies that the NFL and professional sports have to offer.” SWAC Commissioner DUER SHARP said. “This partnership is cutting edge and will allow our stakeholders and respective organizations the opportunity to foster long term relationships that will ultimately increase our visibility from campuses to corner offices.  We are grateful that the NFL has taken such a profound stance in recognizing the potential of our student athletes, administrators, coaches and officials.”

The NFL has a long association with MEAC and SWAC institutions, which have developed some of the greats of the game, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Bob Hayes (Florida A&M), Shannon Sharpe (Savannah State), Harry Carson (South Carolina State) and Aeneas Williams (Southern).

“The partnership between the NFL and these conferences will be outstanding,” Williams said.  “Many students, executives and other talented individuals, who may not have known about all of the avenues available to them in the NFL off the field, will have more of a chance to engage in activities and opportunities that will prepare them for a rewarding career in the game that we all love.”

The MEAC and SWAC schools:

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference                          Southwestern Athletic Conference

School Location   School Location
Bethune-Cookman Daytona Beach, FL Alabama A&M Huntsville, AL
Coppin State Baltimore, MD Alabama State Montgomery, AL
Delaware State Dover, DE Alcorn State Lorman, MS
Florida A&M Tallahassee, FL Arkansas-Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, AR
Hampton Hampton, VA Grambling State Grambling, LA
Howard Washington, DC Jackson State Jackson, MS
Maryland Eastern Shore Princess Anne, MD Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, MS
Morgan State Baltimore, MD Prairie View A&M Prairie View, TX
North Carolina A&T Greensboro, NC Southern Baton Rouge, LA
North Carolina Central Durham, NC Texas Southern Houston, TX
Norfolk State Norfolk, VA
Savannah State Savannah, GA
South Carolina State Orangeburg, SC

2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to Open Bowl Season on ABC

Announcement-Graphic-Twitter-1024x512The 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl will once again be televised live on ABC and open the bowl season. The  postseason  college football bowl game will kick off at noon ET on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, which showcases the heritage, legacy, pageantry and tradition of Historically  Black  Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), pits the conference champion from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference  (MEAC) against the  Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). In 2015, MEAC champion North Carolina A&T State  University defeated SWAC  champion Alcorn State University 41-34 in front of over 35,000 fans.

“We are pleased to once again open the bowl season with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on ABC,” said John  Grant,  Celebration Bowl Executive Director. “By presenting the champions of the MEAC and SWAC conferences in this  bowl game we expose millions of fans to the excitement of championship football.”

“We are elated about today’s announcement that the 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl will be televised on ABC,” said Dennis Thomas, Commissioner, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “By all objective measures, the inaugural 2015 bowl was a huge success and I am confident that the 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl will be even better. I am even more excited about the bowl experience that the institutions, student-athletes and coaches will have on a national platform. We would like to commend ESPN for their commitment to the MEAC and SWAC Champions for this postseason bowl game.”

“The SWAC is thrilled to continue its relationship with the Air Force Reserved Celebration Bowl and ABC,” SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp said.  “Two of the best teams in country, the MEAC champion versus the SWAC champion, in early December is a great way to kick off the bowl season. Playing on ABC, the pageantry of the game and the opportunity to play in a venue like the Georgia Dome and a city such as Atlanta, makes for a fantastic bowl experience for our student-athletes and football fans everywhere.”

Tickets for the game, a full ancillary event schedule and discounted rates at downtown Atlanta hotels will be available this summer. To stay up to date on Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl announcements, sign up for updates on, and follow the event on Twitter and Facebook.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, also manages the season-opening MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Labor Day Weekend, another game that showcases these two conferences and highlights the traditions of HBCUs. The 2016 Challenge features defending SWAC champion Alcorn State against defending MEAC co-champion Bethune-Cookman, and will be played Sunday, Sept. 4 at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, live on ESPN.