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RJS must wait a year for FAMU-Grambling

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


TAMPA -- Don't look for a Florida A&M-Grambling State preseason football game at Raymond James Stadium in August, but a promoter said Monday he expects the game to be a reality in August 2001.

"The game is being rescheduled," said Dove Entertainment CEO J.T. Thompson, whose company promotes gospel music and has been working to stage a game between historically black colleges to raise scholarship money for the NAACP. "We just obtained a $1-million bond for the game. We will put it together, and we're looking at Florida A&M and Grambling."

The game, which would have been the first black college Kickoff Classic, was supposed to be played Aug. 26.

Although Thompson said the game received conditional approval from the NCAA, which must sanction any game before Labor Day, it was contingent upon his group finalizing its finances. He said he didn't have enough time to complete a television deal, and without that in place he couldn't complete the finances.

"In the end, a lot of it had to do with finances," FAMU athletic department spokesman Alvin Hollins said. "From the FAMU perspective, we get approached by a lot of folks who want to put together promotional games, and over the years, we've become demanding that we see some real paperwork, some guarantee that we're going to get this amount of money. ... We're just leery of anybody unless they've got all their ducks in a row."

Instead, FAMU and Grambling will play in the Circle City Classic on Oct. 7 in Indianapolis. Each school is expected to receive a guarantee of at least $250,000, Hollins said, adding that FAMU had committed to the Circle City Classic in January and was waiting on a scheduling conflict with Grambling to be worked out or another opponent to be lined up.

"We're still trying to work with the promoter to see if there's a potential for this game to occur here in future years," said Mickey Farrell, the director of operations for the Tampa Sports Authority. "We'd love to have the game."

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