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FAMU not in support of reviving Heritage Bowl
A plan that was discussed by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as recently as March to revive the Heritage Bowl under a new name doesn’t appear to have majority support from schools in the conference, including Florida A&M.
Participating in the game would require the MEAC champion to forfeit its automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs and that is the major sticking point by the schools that will likely veto the idea. It calls for the Heritage Bowl, which was last played in 1999 to be revived as the Legacy Bowl.
But in order for it to move forward, the plan that involves matching the MEAC champion football team against the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion, would need a majority vote from the presidents of each university before it would take effect. The SWAC doesn’t participate in the NCAA playoffs.
The idea was discussed during a March meeting of the presidents, but no decision has been made.
FAMU alumni and booster organizations have been vehemently vocal in opposing plans for the game, which have been widely reported in recent weeks. FAMU President James Ammons said in a letter to the organizations that he will not support the plan.
“I have spoken with interim Athletic Director Michael Smith and (football) coach Joe Taylor,” Ammons wrote in a June 2 letter. “We agree that this is not a good decision for FAMU. I have spoken with (MEAC) commissioner (Dennis) Thomas and expressed that FAMU does not support the notion of a Legacy Bowl that would prevent FAMU from competing for a national title.”
Thomas has not responded to several requests from the Democrat during the past week for comment. Several published reports have said the game is being planned for Dec. 17, 2011, with ESPN televising it.
Multiple sources have also reported that the network would offer the conferences $1.5 million each. Each of the MEAC’s 13 schools, including the two without football programs, would get a share of the payout, sources have said.
But sharing the money isn’t the biggest issue.
“I just don’t think you can go out there and recruit the top athletes if they don’t have the opportunity to ascend to the top and that is the national championship,” Taylor said Monday. “We all still have the aspiration to win it all. That’s what drives this university, the athletic program and specifically the football program.
“You wake up every morning with the idea that you want to do something that will put you a little bit closer.”
By St. Clair Murraine • DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER • June 9, 2010