The Prince George€s Classic: Going Strong in Year Six

Carla Peay | 9/3/2009, 12:29 a.m.

The Prince George€s Classic will celebrate its sixth year in existence, amid many changes from years past, due to tough economic times and challenges.

€We were concerned in this economy about the ability to solicit sponsorships,€ said Mike Little, founder and CEO of the Prince George€s Classic. €Our sponsorships have been year to year, although some have been with us for a long time. So, being a little uncertain about how they [our sponsors] might be positioned this year, made this a work in progress,€ Little said.

But despite the challenges, and a few changes, the Classic will go forward. This year, the Classic will be without the popular Battle of the Bands event, which has been held at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland College Park in past years. The event would have cost approximately $20,000 for the use of the Comcast Center.

€Historically, we have been able to cover the cost and make contributions to the band programs and give plaques and recognition to the participating schools. But, given the state of the economy and the impact that it has on the general public as well as sponsorship opportunities, we were not comfortable to make that $20,000 plus commitment,€ said Little, citing the uncertainty of ticket sales and sponsorships.

But the Classic will feature many other activities, including a Welcome Reception, sponsored by the Prince George€s Black Chamber of Commerce, a Greek Pan-Hellenic Mixer and the traditional football game between Bowie State University and Shaw University.
The Bowie State University Bulldogs give a valiant effort at the 2008 Prince George€s Classic. Courtesy Photo
Shaw has been the CIAA Champion for four of the last five seasons, and has had an impressive run under head coach Darrell Asberry. However, Bowie State is under new leadership in the football program, and plans to make a run at Shaw this year.

Bowie State€s new head football coach, Damon Wilson, played tight end for Bowie State, and had coaching stints at Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M University, in addition to serving as Bowie State€s running backs and special teams coach before getting the opportunity to return to Bowie State as the head coach.

€We are extremely happy to have a product of Bowie State return to serve this great institution and feel confident Damon will be a great fit for the overall program,€ Athletic Director Derek Carter said in a release.

€I think the football game should be good and entertaining, because Shaw is the two-time defending CIAA Champs, and Bowie is under new leadership. We are expecting a good turnout, because Shaw travels well in terms of their fans and alumni, and we have a lot of Shaw alumni in this area,€ said LeAmber Howell, event coordinator for the Classic.
Bowie State University cheerleaders pose at the 2008 Prince George€s Classic football game. Courtesy Photo
Although the bands will not battle, a musical performance will still take place during the game€s halftime by Oxon Hill High School. Oxon Hill has used the Classic as a fund raising event in previous years.

The Classic has always been celebrated as an economic boon for Prince George€s County, but with the state in a budget deficit, there was concern among Classic organizers about how much support could be counted on from county leaders and officials.

€We didn€t expect a lot from the state and the county this year given the financial circumstances. We know that jobs are being cut and people are being laid off and furloughed, so we did not ask for a lot,€ said Little, who stressed that strong partnerships are still placed from the Park and Planning Commission, as well as Prince George€s County Public Schools.

One of the Classic€s main objectives is to showcase Bowie State University.

€For the young people, it€s an opportunity to get a look at Bowie State and consider that as a place for furthering their education,€ Little said. €In addition to that, we see the Classic as a family oriented social event, as well as bringing an economic impact to the county. We are able to make contributions to the scholarship fund through the Bowie State University foundation, and people who travel from out of town will certainly spend money at our hotels and restaurants,€ Little said.

The Classic also seeks to highlight HBCU€s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

€The community at large has an opportunity to participate in a social, cultural kind of event that is very affordable to attend,€ Little said. €The goal is not so much to make money, but to provide an opportunity for people to have a great experience.€

Schedule of Events (Place in a box as a sidebar)

Thu., Sept. 24
Welcome Reception

Sat., Sept. 26

College Showcase and Job Fair
Football Game between Bowie State and Shaw University
Halftime Show featuring the Oxon Hill High School Band
Greek Pan-Hellenic Mixer

Sun., Sept. 27

Church Services