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The following is the full statement released Tuesday evening by Tuskegee University regarding the decision to pull out of the 2013 Turkey Day Classic:
Although Tuskegee University and its supporters treasure the long-standing relationship we have maintained with Alabama State University and the Turkey Day Classic, the Department of Athletics at Tuskegee University has decided not to participate in this season's classic in order to pursue more challenging opportunities for our football program. 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. We look forward to discussing our future options with ASU, to find a solution that will best satisfy the hopes and wishes of both of our esteemed institutions.
Tuskegee fans have generally been split on this issue. There will be many who will rightfully express frustration about today's football schedule release. However, we have had an increasingly vocal amount of fans who wanted to see how deep the Golden Tigers could play into the postseason, if given an opportunity.
Playing in the postseason means that the TU Department of Athletics will be able to get a distinct advantage in recruiting and positive encouragement by the families of our players and potential student- athletes, because they will no longer have to be in a situation where just winning the SIAC Conference Championship is the ultimate prize anymore. Our football team just won its 26th outright SIAC Championship last season, after going 3-0 against teams in our conference that made the Division II playoffs.
Those conference titles, combined with winning eight black national championships and an overall record of 61-34-4 over the Hornets in the all-time series, have led the Department of Athletics at Tuskegee to seek higher goals in concern with our football program. At Tuskegee, we believe that we should no longer restrict our scholar-athletes if they manage to reach the highest pinnacles of success, and allow them an open window to play for the biggest goals in college football. Ultimately, we believe that this is a decision that will be most beneficial for all involved in both the short-term future, as well as the long-term growth of our program.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Tuskegee University Athletics Dept.