February 13, 2017

(STATS) - The inaugural Jake Gaither Classic could have quite the spotlight this season, but Florida A&M and Texas Southern still need to take steps for it to occur Aug. 26.

Both schools recently announced the meeting in the early season opener at Fort Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. The date is the Saturday prior to the traditional start of the season, which is the Thursday preceding Labor Day.

To play an early opener, Florida A&M and Texas Southern, two of the nation's historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, want to use the "FCS First Contest Exception" in the NCAA Bylaws. It allows for two non-conference programs to face each other as long as they are playing in a nationally televised contest (broadcast or cable, not Internet-only).

NCAA spokesman J.D. Hamilton said neither Florida A&M, from the MEAC, nor Texas Southern, from the SWAC, has contacted the governing body for the necessary waiver to play on Aug. 26. Also, a broadcast network has yet to be announced, said Elliott Charles, Florida A&M's deputy director of athletics.

A waiver was used for the FCS Kickoff games that have opened the last three seasons, and ESPN gained one for Chattanooga and Jacksonville State to play in this year's Montgomery Kickoff Classic on Aug. 26 in Alabama.

Including the potential early opener, Florida A&M and Texas Southern do not have a mutual bye in their schedules until Thanksgiving weekend.

You May Like