Alcorn State, Miss. (July 3, 2012) – Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II and interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dwayne White held a call-in with university stakeholders informing them of the decision to exercise Alcorn’s home game status for this year’s football contest. The regularly scheduled SWAC game between Alcorn State University and Jackson State University will be held November 17, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. in the Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium on the Lorman campus.
Heralded by some alumni as “the return of the Soul Bowl”, campus officials detailed the decision of AD White, Alcorn’s 18th President Brown, and 18th Head Football Coach Jay Hopson to end the 18-year history of the annual matchup between the Braves and Tigers in the city of Jackson. AD White stated, “As an Alcorn alum and now administrator, I know firsthand the importance of hosting prospective students and high school athletes on campus to allow them to see the quality of the facilities. Alcorn has a beautiful campus with lots of new construction that never get showcased by playing annually in Jackson.”
Coach Hopson agreed, “It is time for this game to come home. Ole Miss and State used to play the Egg Bowl in Jackson, but realized that it was more beneficial to player morale, fan support, and finances to rotate the game between the two campuses.” Hopson offered details about the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University game at Veterans Stadium and the traditions that continue with the Golden Egg Trophy that now rotates between campuses based on who wins each year.
President Brown detailed the almost two-year process that led to the decision to discontinue the popular Capital City Classic. He reminded callers of the 2011 Study Group Report that recommended a forensic audit of all “Classic and ancillary events”, making certain that any decision caused no harm to Jackson State, requiring the reestablishment of a bicameral oversight committee, and determining the cost-benefit of the Jackson location for Alcorn State University. President Brown acknowledged the rich cultural history of the Jackson location, but stressed that the Ayers mandated transfer of Memorial Stadium from general state-ownership to Jackson State complicated the perceived neutral game field gridiron. He added that the inability to identify a title sponsor delimits the cost-benefit of the location.
President Brown said, “Shreveport offers significant dollars from the tax-base to support the Port City Classic, but much of the support in Jackson is in-kind. Absent a corporate sponsor, the diminution of revenues to cover stadium rent, game security, parking attendants, and travel logistics not to mention a growing list of extraneous events is not a conservative fiscal approach at a time when state universities must prudently spend every penny.”
CFO and Senior Vice President for Administration Betty Roberts agreed and stated, “When you look at best financial case scenarios, the money difference in Lorman edges out Jackson. DFA records show a clear decline in both ticket sales and turnstile attendance. The 2011 audit forecasted 25,000 tickets and only 22,733 people came through the turnstile. Spinks-Casem Stadium seats 22,500 not to mention our end-zones. Last year, Alcorn improved our parking operations and campus ingress and egress was timely, without incident. Facilities is prepared and we can host this game with minimal challenges.”
Marcus Ward, Vice President for Institutional Affairs advised callers that he has begun conversations with the ASU Foundation and campus facilities vendors to enhance the stadium appearance for the 2012 football season. “We had a number of film crews on campus since the President named the new AD and football coach. ESPN is scheduled to do filming throughout the season. It is imperative that we prepare our facilities for national exposure. If we are also hosting the Jackson State game, we will have to be on-point with the details, parking, signage, and concessions. Beautifying the stadium is central to advancing our image and brand.”
The overall response to the decision was extremely positive with several callers sighing in relief that a firm decision had been made. Alumni callers were also happy to hear the thorough description of how the decision was made and the actions that are already being taken to host a successful on-campus football visit from Jackson State for the first time in almost 20 years.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Samuel White added his approval saying “This decision is a boon for our students. Annually, we have to transport band and football students to Jackson after classes have ended and return them campus to retrieve their belongings for Thanksgiving Break only to have them drive back out. Hosting Jackson State on campus is a great capstone to our football season.” Cheryl Ponder, the Vice President for Student Affairs stated, “It was unbelievable to me that Alcorn would not be holding such a major game on campus every other year. High profile athletics events have an ability to boost admissions applications and enrollments. Games like this also provide an important forum for student activities and campus events.”
“I have reviewed all the contracts going back through President Bristow. The dissolution of the independent Capital City Classic Committee poisoned the event, and we have been on life-support ever since. The time has come to pull the plug. This is Alcorn’s home game and we will play it at home”, President Brown said. “I have wrestled with the Capital City Classic – Soul Bowl issue since being named in 2010. As president, I have a fiscal and leadership responsibility to Alcorn State University and this decision is in our best long-term interest. It makes this most sense at this point in our history. All contracts for this Classic have expired and there is no viable offer on the table that makes sense for me to sign.”
Given the impending holiday, President Brown began his remarks paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence stating, “On tomorrow each of us will celebrate a great document that reads, ‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.’ This conference call is to discuss the history of the Capital City Classic and the reasons why it is no longer in Alcorn’s best interest to play the game in Jackson, under that name, and without a corporate sponsor. The facts are self-evident that the Lorman campus is an equal and adequate venue for ANY football game, including Jackson State. The time has come to declare our independence from hosting the Capital City Classic on our rival school’s home field.”