ESPN Events has launched a new event, featuring Tuskegee University with the creation of the Red Tails Classic – a college football event showcasing Historically Black Colleges and Universities – in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. Tuskegee University and Fort Valley State University will play in the inaugural game at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., to open the 2021 college fall football season on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. ET, on ESPNU.
"We are extremely pleased to highlight Tuskegee University in an annual kickoff event in Montgomery for the next three years," said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president, college sports programming and ESPN Events. "The history of this outstanding HBCU institution is accented with the important role the Tuskegee Airmen played in World War II, and serves as a great source of pride that we hope to highlight within this nationally televised event."
Tuskegee interim President Charlotte P. Morris added: "Tuskegee's Labor Day football game will certainly be different this year. We are excited about taking on conference rival Fort Valley State University in this year's Inaugural Red Tails Classic. The Tuskegee Airmen are our American Heroes, and we are elated to honor them in this newly branded classic."
Fort Valley State and Tuskegee are both members of the NCAA Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The SIAC did not sponsor football during the 2020-21 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the first SIAC football game in 660 calendar days. The last official game was played on Nov. 16, 2019, when Miles defeated Albany State 21-6 in the 2019 SIAC championship game.
"I am excited about it, I think it's a great opportunity for our players and our school," said Willie Slater ,Tuskegee athletic director and head football coach. "When the opportunity presented itself for us to play in the Red Tails Classic, I was all for it. I think it's a real good opportunity to play on ESPN."