Tuskegee to Play in Inaugural Red Tails Classic to Honor Tuskegee Airmen
ESPN has announced the creation of the Red Tails Classic, a football event to honor the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. The game will showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities and be played in Montgomery.
The game will be played at Cramton Bowl and will feature Tuskegee playing Fort Valley State. The game will be Sunday, September 5, at 7PM and air on ESPNU.
“We are extremely pleased to highlight Tuskegee University in an annual kickoff event in Montgomery for the next three years,” Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president, college sports programming and ESPN Events, said in a statement. “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 said, “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.”
The game will be one of two games played at Cramton Bowl to open the college football season. The inaugural Montgomery Classic will be played Wednesday, Sept. 1, featuring Jacksonville State and UAB.
“Montgomery is proud to bring these unique sports experiences to Cramton Bowl.,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said. “The Red Tails Classic and Montgomery Kickoff will be enjoyed by fans, families and local businesses alike, and these events will diversify our growing tourism sector.”
“It is no surprise that once again Montgomery County has been chosen to host not one but two nationally televised college football games this fall,” Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said. “We are pleased and honored to welcome the inaugural Red Tails Classic and the Montgomery Kickoff. 2021 continues to bring blessings as these two games will provide both national exposure and a positive economic impact. I am grateful ESPN Events continues to see how special Montgomery is in its selection of this great county and thankful for all the dedication by our residents to bring these games here.”
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.
“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.”
Fort Valley State (6-4, 4-2 SIAC) finished third in the SIAC East Division in 2019. Tuskegee (5-5, 4-2 SIAC) finished second in the SIAC West Division in 2019.