University of Arkansas Pine Bluff to replace Jackson State in Southern Heritage Classic

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 7:39 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Southern Heritage Classic is switching up the line-up.

The University of Arkansas of Pine Bluff will now be replacing Jackson State University in the annual match-up.

“Don’t sleep on Pine Bluff!” said UAPB alum Alexis Cole.

“I’m from Memphis so I’ve known TSU and Jackson State being here every year but having that new HBCU culture to come to Memphis and my hometown is just something the city of Memphis needs,” said Cole.

More than 51,000 fans packed the stands at the Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl back in September for what some fans feared would be the last Southern Heritage Classic.

Wednesday morning fans found out that would not be the case.

The Golden Lions will take on the Tigers of Tennessee State University next September for the annual match-up.

The University of Arkansas Pine Bluff is less than 200 miles away from Memphis.

It is the second oldest college or university in the state. UAPB is considerably smaller than Jackson State, JSU nearly doubles the undergraduate enrollment of UAPB.

Some are wondering if Pine Bluff can attract crowds similar to those past Southern Heritage Classic games.

Jones says he’s not worried, in fact, he expects the same excitement that comes every year with the Southern Heritage Classic.

He says UAPB is a natural fit.

“It was my number one choice especially when I started to do the research Little Rock, Arkansas, is the top 5 feeders into Memphis in terms of tourism,” said Jones.

The change comes after Jackson State University announced earlier this year that after nearly 30 years of the match-up, 2022 would be JSU’s last year.

Jackson State’s head coach at the time, Deion Sanders, publicly criticized the amount of money the school was being paid to participate.

The departure led to a lawsuit. Jones and his management company sued JSU for breach of contract.

JSU signed a contract in 2019 to play in Memphis through 2024.

Jones says he and JSU have reached a settlement.

Jones said, “We had a very good relationship for 29 years, and you know, changes had to be made and we made them and we’re moving on.”

Jones said he would not comment on how much was involved in the settlement.

UAPB and Tennessee State University will be the featured teams for the next two years.

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