After previously pulling out of the game abruptly earlier this month, we have found out that Jackson State University will in fact be playing Tennessee State University in the Southern Heritage Classic after all! Get the full story from Khari Thompson at The Mississippi Clarion Ledger below.

Jackson State will play Southern Heritage Classic against Tennessee State one last time in 2022

Jackson State and Tennessee State will meet in football one last time in the Southern Heritage Classic. Friday’s announcement comes eight days after it appeared Jackson State was pulling out of the game and generating criticism for the decision. 

The game will be played in Memphis at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Sept. 10 as originally planned. 

“Last week, confidential legal correspondence between Jackson State University and Summitt Management Corporation was leaked,” according to a school release Friday from Jackson State. “Which did not reflect the ongoing communication between the parties. We understand how football fans plan to attend games months in advance, and it was never our intent to abruptly cancel participation during the 2022 season.”

Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) escapes a tackle to run up the field in the Southern Heritage Classic between Tennessee State University and Jackson State University at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Credit: Henry Taylor / Commercial-Appeal)

The game contract was through 2024 and based on JSU’s statement, it appears the school doesn’t plan on playing the final two years of the series. 

“We are pleased with this conclusion and look forward to bringing the SWAC Championship JSU Tigers back to Memphis in September for one final battle on the gridiron,” JSU said.

Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones, who was critical of Jackson State last week, told the Clarion Ledger on Friday that he’s happy that the parties found a solution. 

“You’ve been working at this a long time. Jackson State has played in this game 28 times,” Jones said. “So there’s a lot of familiarity and I’m glad for the fans that we were able to work something out and work something out quickly to resolve at least this year so we can move forward.”

Jones said that there was no ongoing communication with Jackson State  and that he found out about JSU’s decision to play the game the same way he found out about their decision to pull out, through the media. 

Jones said that while JSU says its intent was to never abruptly cancel participation in the game, the letter from its lawyer shows otherwise. 

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders and TSU head coach Eddie George embrace in the center of the field after the Southern Heritage Classic between Tennessee State University and Jackson State University at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. 
(Credit: Henry Taylor / Commercial-Appeal)

“The letter that they wrote is clear,” Jones said. “They were canceling all three of the games. I don’t want that to say that wasn’t our intent. That’s not what happened. The letter said we are terminating the contract and they’re saying now it wasn’t our intent. So what is it?”

Last week Tennessee State president Glenda Glover called Jackson State’s decision “an insensitive and irresponsible act” that had  far-reaching implications beyond football. 

The two schools have met 28 times since the Classic began Sept. 8, 1990, with Tennessee State leading the series 17-11. Jackson State won last year’s meeting, the first between coaches Deion Sanders and Eddie George, 38-16, and the game is typically one of the biggest events on both schools’ schedule. 

The announcement comes after an image claiming to be the Jackson State football schedule began circulating on social media. JSU said that the graphic was not the official schedule.

The school initially planned to release the schedule on Feb. 7, but has since pushed that release back to a later date. 

The Southern Heritage Classic is the third classic JSU is scheduled to play in the 2022 season. The Tigers will play Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the SWAC Classic. The Tigers are also set to play seven conference games.