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Cheyney University cited its finances for pulling the Wolves out of the Turkey Day football classic against Alabama State University. — Tribune File Photo

 

“They pulled out because of financial concerns within the university,” said Travis Jarome, interim director of athletic strategic communications at ASU. “We just received word of it when we received a new opponent.”

ASU will now play Edwards Waters College, a private Black college in Jacksonville, Fla. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 23 at ASU’s stadium in Montgomery, Ala.

 It would have been too costly to pay for airfare and other things for about 90 players as well as the coaching staff, said Ted Duncan, the director of business development and communications at Cheyney.

“The finances just didn’t work out; the finances would have cost us more than what we would have gotten,” Duncan said. “It was not a good situation for us. I just know that both of the president’s agreed on canceling the game.”

Cheyney, located about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, has faced decreasing enrollment, along with accreditation and monetary issues. Staff and administration positions were cut in order to manage the school’s budget deficit.

Earlier this year, the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education said it would forgive $30 million in loans if the school could maintain a balanced budget and could meet certain benchmarks.

In April, Cheyney Interim Athletic Director Suzanne Kilian said the college was looking forward to providing its student athletes with “a chance to experience what it feels like to compete at the highest level of collegiate football.”

The last time ASU and Edward Waters played was in 2009.

The Turkey Day Classic is considered the longest running HBCU competition in the nation. The first game was against Tuskegee University in 1924. Others opponents have included Mississippi Valley State, Clark Atlanta University, Johnson C. Smith University, Fayetteville State University, Stillman College and Miles College.

“We are excited to make this announcement regarding the Hornets’ new opponent for the 2017 Turkey Day Classic,” ASU President Quinton T. Ross Jr. said in a statement. “We are looking forward to having a great classic week of events and a great game on Turkey Day.”

Cheyney Wolves’ last football game of the season is at home against Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. The teams take to the field at noon on Saturday.

rpersinger@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5782

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