|A&T Aggies and NCCU Eagles keep football rivalry going for a decade|
|Deal guarantees series continues through 2030|
|Published Tuesday, December 22, 2020 12:00 pm|
|NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL ATHLETICS|
|Longtime rivals North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central will continue their football rivalry through the 2030 season after signing a 10-year deal for a home-and-home series.|
A 10-year deal signed last week by North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T will ensure the Eagles and Aggies will play annually starting in 2021. They’ll compete as nonconference foes with A&T leaving the MEAC next year for the Big South. The home team will alternate annually, starting Sept. 25 in Greensboro. They play April 3 in Durham as a MEAC contest.
“I know there have been some concerns about whether this great tradition of North Carolina A&T meeting North Carolina Central on the gridiron would continue with our move to a new conference this fall,” said Aggies athletics director Earl Hilton said. “I am happy to say that this tradition is alive and well. We look forward to this game each year. Aggies have a lot of friends and family who are Eagles and Eagles have a lot of friends and family who are Aggies. It is truly a family feud.”
The MEAC pushed back its football season to February 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving A&T and NCCU one final game as league opponents – at least for now. NCCU’s board of trustees met last month to discuss the school’s options of finding a new league affiliation with the departures of A&T, Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and Hampton in the last three years. Hampton is in the Big South while Bethune-Cookman and FAMU are heading to the SWAC.
“After nearly a year of dealing with COVID-19, I am excited to get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Eagles coach Trei Oliver, a standout player at NCCU and former Aggies assistant coach. “What better way to return than by announcing our new 10-year agreement with our arch in-state rival North Carolina A&T. I think it was important to alumni, students, and fans from both universities that this rivalry continued.”
The Aggies and Eagles have met in nonconference clashes before, notably when NCCU competed in the Division II CIAA on two separate occasions while A&T was in the MEAC, a Division I FCS league. The Big South is also Division I FCS.
“I want to thank our colleagues at North Carolina A&T State University for partnering with us on this agreement,” NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker McCree said. “This game is one of the highlights of every football season for our student-athletes, alumni and fans, so we are excited to be able to guarantee that we will meet our in-state rival on the gridiron for the next 10 years.”
A&T coach Sam Washington applauded the continuation of the rivalry he’s participated in on both sidelines. Washington was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at NCCU from 1993-2000 when it was a member of the CIAA.
“I think the game is important to the players because it gives them an opportunity to compete against guys they have been playing with or against since junior high school,” he said. “The competitive fire runs real deep when you put these two teams on the field together. It is a rivalry that is starting to grow in stature along with some of the other HBCU historic rivalries like the Florida Classic, and certainly, in the state of North Carolina, it’s a huge event in terms of bragging rights.”
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