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In a surprising move Tuesday, Tuskegee University announced the Golden Tigers will not play in the 2013 Turkey Day Classic. The Hornets and Tigers have faced off in the Turkey Day Classic in 84 of the past 89 year history of the game, according to ASU officials. Now that rivalry may be a tradition that's long gone.
Later in the day, ASU announced its own full 2013 football schedule, promising to continue the Thanksgiving Day game, but with Stillman College.
"I'm completely speechless right now," Alabama State University Junior David Walker said.
And that's the case for many Alabama State University students who just learned that Tuskegee was pulling out of the long-standing rivalry.
"It's an in-state rival. It's not going to be the same at all. It's bigger than us playing A&M, and that's our second in-state rival, but Tuskegee... that's bigger than anything. It's going to throw a lot of things off. Even the crowd and participation for the game won't be the same," Walker said.
"So for us not to play them, there's the initial shock for everyone, finally hearing that Tuskegee has decided they want to compete for the NCAA Division II National Championship. And we respect that," Hines said.
ASU acting Athletic Director Melvin Hines says it has been speculated for months now, but nothing was official until Tuesday.
"The athletic director at Tuskegee, we had talked about playing and he had made some indications that he may possibly want to go to the Division II National Championship," Hines said.
Hines says it's unclear if this is an indefinite pull out, but for sure the Tuskegee Tigers won't be playing in the 2013 Turkey Day Classic.
"We have signed a contract with Stillman College that we will be participating in the 90th Turkey Day Classic, so we look forward to that and it gives us an opportunity to create a new tradition and a new tradition and a new rivalry."
ASU officials released some interesting facts about this rivalry:
The first football game in ASU's football program's history was played in 1901 against Tuskegee in Tuskegee, Alabama.
The first Turkey Day Classic was originally named "Dixie Classic." It was played in 1924 in Montgomery at the Cramton Bowl. It was the start of the Tuskegee Tiger and ASU Hornets long-standing classic tradition.
That tradition lasted until 1970. Tuskegee did not play against ASU in 1971. The rivalry started again in 1972 and lasted until 1985. In 1986 and 1987, Tuskegee did not participate in the Turkey Day Classic.
In 1988 and 1990, the Golden Tigers returned, but then in 1991 and 1992 did not participate once again. That rivalry was reclaimed in 1993 and lasted until Turkey Day Classic 2012 at the new ASU stadium.
WSFA 12 News tried for seven hours to get a response and questions answered from Tuskegee University officials.
At 9:30 Tuesday tonight, Tuskegee Sports Information Director Michael Stewart sent this statement in part quote:
"The decision is definite. However, we would like to continue the special relationship between our two teams and perhaps play the Hornets on a different day in the not-so-distant future," Stewart said.
The release also said Tuskegee is not participating this season in order to quote "pursue more challenging opportunities." READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM TUSKEGEE HERE.
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