UCLA schedules games against HBCUs for first time ever

Games against Alabama State University and North Carolina Central are now set for 2022 and 2023.

The UCLA Bruins football team is set to play at the Rose Bowl against two historically Black colleges and universities for the very first time. 

A game against Alabama State University has been scheduled for Sept. 10, 2022, and one pitting UCLA against North Carolina Central University is on the books for Sept. 16, 2023. 

UCLA Bruins Head Coach Chip Kelly leads the football team into the Rose Bowl. The Bruins are officially scheduled to face two HBCU teams in the stadium for the first time. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Also no doubt worth the wait: Alabama State’s Mighty Marching Hornets and NCCU’s Sound Machine Marching Band will provide half-time entertainment for their respective Rose Bowl games. 

“Adding two HBCUs to our football schedule is special,” UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond said in a news release. “It’s exciting to give our student-athletes and fans a new experience and to bring a little bit of the South to Southern California.”

Stewart Mandel, the college football editor-in-chief for The Athletic, said the games are a significant opportunity for the historic Black colleges. “West Coast fans will get a taste of those schools’ traditions, most notably their famous bands,” said Mandel. “Credit to Jarmond for the initiative.” 

Jarmond, who is Black, shared the signing of the agreement to play the games in a Twitter post, contending that it’s “always exciting to do something for the first time.”

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Alabama State’s marching band was featured in the 2019 Beyoncé concert film on Netflix, Homecoming. The Mighty Hornets have also played the Honda “Battle of the Bands,” and they’ve previously performed in the Rose Parade, as has the Sound Machine Marching Band of North Carolina Central.

The Hornets’ dance team, the Honey Beez, was also featured on America’s Got Talent

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“This is an exciting time for Alabama State and our football program,” said Jennifer Lynne Williams, Alabama State’s director of athletics, in a statement. “When we recruit student-athletes to come to Alabama State, we let them know they will have the opportunity to showcase their talents against some of the best competition in the country.” 

“The pageantry of the Rose Bowl venue and everything that comes along with it is special,” she said. “This will be something our student-athletes will remember for a lifetime.”

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