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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Atlanta to host 1st HBCU Tip-off Classic

ATLANTA- The city of Atlanta and historically black colleges nationwide will have something extra to be thankful for around the Thanksgiving holiday this year when the HBCU Tip-off Classic come to town for its debut November 7 at Phillips Arena.

This event will mark the first time in the 14 year history of the arena, which houses the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Dream, that an event will be held of this magnitude under their roof.

In the past, Phillips has in the past hosted one HBCU event when Clark-AU and Morehouse tangled on the prestigious hardwood.

The Tip Off Classic, brainchild of founder Kevin Clayton, who also heads JumpBall, a local sports-related organization  pushing diversity and inclusion in college athletics, will feature eight teams from the country’s four historically black college athletic conferences.  The bracket for the five day event will pit four Division II schools against each other and four Division I teams doing the same.. The only time Division I and Division II colleges will play each other is either in the consolation game or the championship. Clayton explained that notwithstanding the previous year’s champ, the tournament will feature seven other teams from the conferences, theoretically giving each of the nation’s HBCUs an opportunity to participate.Atlanta Tipoff Classic logo

“The classic is designed for our (HBCU) schools to play in a competitive , first class event in a first-class arena to kick off their seasons, ”Clayton told assembled press at a kick-off news conference Tuesday, March 5 at Phillips arena.

In addition to noted celebrities present who are a part of the organizing committee including Wendy Davis, co-star of the hit TV drama Army Wives and a Jump Ball co-partner, the tournament lured as its ambassador NBA Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic player and coach Sam Jones, a graduate of North Carolina Central who played there from 1951 to 1954 and returned to play at NCCU during the 1956-57 season.Atlanta Tipoff Classic principalsAtlanta Tipoff Classic Press Conference’ve been involved with HBCUs all my life and it does my heart good to see our schools having this opportunity,” he said.

Bob Williams, President of the Atlanta Hawks and the Phillips Arena complex, said it’s a pleasure to be connected to a event which he says will provide “ a memorable experience for all the players, coaches, parents and fans participating in this first-of-its-kind event.

” A spokesperson for JumpBall and Atlanta based Hope-Beckham which is helping to market the event, said Morehouse College of Atlanta is the first of the eight teams selected. The other seven will be announced in a few weeks. Each of the eight teams will be financially compensated to play in the tourney and tickets, which will go on sale April 1, will be sold through the event and not the participating schools.

Proceeds from the game will benefit the 37 year old Morehouse School of Medicine, co-founded by Atlanta native and Morehouse College grad Dr Louis Sullivan, who was also Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under the Administration of former President George H. W. Bush.

For additional and ongoing information about the tournament, visit


Tuskegee has announced it is no longer participating in the Turkey Day football classic in Montgomery Alabama with Alabama State. A release carried in the Montgomery Advertiser attributed to the Tuskegee Athletics Department headed by Patric Simon, who has been at the job since July 2 of last year, noted in the first paragraph of the statement that the reason for the withdrawal was “to pursue more challenging opportunities for our football program (namely a shot at participation in the NCAA Division II playoffs). “

The statement says that 26 conference titles, eight national black college championships and a 61-34-4 overall record in games against Alabama State “have led the Department of Athletics at Tuskegee to seek higher goals in concert with our football program.”Patric SimonSimon

This is interesting since many of us were led to believe that the two teams would continue to play each other on a home and home basis and move the Thanksgiving game to a date that would not interfere with the deadlines to qualify for the Division II playoffs.

You may recall also that there was serious “discussion” in 2011 about the game and particularly the future site for it.

See this INSIDE column-

I’m also told by a reliable source that we haven’t heard the last of this.

Alabama State, meanwhile, will continue to play on Turkey Day against the Stillman Tigers. But how will that affect Stillman’s playoff status? Will they not be in the same boat that ‘Skegee just got out of? The Tigers have played brilliant SIAC football the last few years.


XTRA POINTS:  Did you know that former Norfolk State President Harrison Wilson is the granddaddy of Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson?  The younger Wilson got his athleticism honestly. His grandpa was a coach, doing a stint as Prairie View’s head basketball coach in the mid 1960s…

Florida A&M has released its 2013 football schedule and the Atlanta Classic usually played toward the end of September is NOT on the schedule. In lieu, the school has listed September 28, the usual date for the Classic, as “open”. Southern University, who has faced FAMU the last two years at the classic put on by 100 Black Men of Atlanta apparently won’t be back either. So, the question begs who will play in the Classic this year or will it take a season off.

INSIDE  maintains this could be an excellent opportunity for the 100 to bring in a strong D-2 program (like maybe Winston Salem State)  to face a D-1 program or invite another D-2 school (like SIAC defending champ Tuskegee). Both are excellent teams who enjoy huge fan support that doesn’t mind traveling.. Think about it.……..

James Speed, president and CEO of insurance giant North Carolina Mutual and Atlanta’s Capitol City Bank, founded and headed by Morehouse graduate George Andrews, have announced what they are calling an historic “strategic alliance”  rarely created between black owned firms.  It will essentially allow the two companies opportunities to offer a variety of services under one roof.” It will be like a one stop shop,” Andrews explained to INSIDE.

“We almost have to do this to expand, grow and compete in this growing global marketplace,” said Speed…….

There will be a second Inner City Classic in Atlanta this year. The game is part of an organization founded last year by metro Atlanta native and former NFL all-pro wide receiver Danny Buggs. September 14, Albany State and Tuskegee will mix at Atlanta’s  Lakewood Stadium…Inner City Classic

Speaking of Tuskegee, the Tigers and Willie Slater have a backbreaking schedule which keeps the Goldens on the road for 7 of their 10 game schedule. The hometowners won’t get to see TU at Cleve Abbott field until the Stillman game October 19.

Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at


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