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The CIAA's GOing Places

The CIAA
Posted By: Brian Simpkins on October 05, 2023

LOS ANGELES – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation's oldest HBCU conference and HBCU GO announced a 10-year media first rights partnership.

Select CIAA games, including the 2023 CIAA Football Championship on November 11th in Salem, VA will be broadcast on CBS stations across major markets like New York, Dallas and Atlanta.

"This is a great day for CIAA, and we appreciate Byron Allen and his team seeing the value and importance of HBCU sports contributions to the world and how we can continue to work together to provide exposure and economic stability in our communities through sports," CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams-Parker said.

HBCU GO, a free-streaming digital platform is owned and founded by media mogul, Byron Allen and runs games linearly with TheGrio Cable Television Network. As a successful Black television owner, Allen currently controls The Weather Channel alongside 36 ABC-NBC-CBS-FOX network affiliate stations in 21 American markets. Other games will be shown virtually on the CIAA Sports Network via university-operated streams.

On October 14th, the first CIAA on HBCU GO broadcast will head to Raleigh, NC for a South Division rivalry between the Winston-Salem State Rams (2-3, 2-1 CIAA) and the host, Shaw University Bears (1-4, 1-2 CIAA).

On November 4th, the second broadcast is the CIAA's fiercest test at the nation’s second-oldest continuous college football venue, Hovey Field (since 1907) as the undefeated Virginia State Trojans (5-0, 3-0 CIAA) face the Virginia Union University Panthers (4-1, 2-1 CIAA), a 2022 NCAA Division II playoff participant.



The 108th rivalry edition serves as a three-headed qualifier including the Bowie State University Bulldogs to determine the CIAA North Champion. Four of the last five CIAA Football Championship Games resulted in the Northern Division winner reigning victorious.

Despite scholarship disparities, Virginia State earned a season-opening upset over ex-CIAA and Division I foe, Norfolk State in a rivalry fans dub, the “Big State-Little State Game” on the road (33-24) before beating Tusculum (21-17), Saint Augustine’s (55-12), Livingstone (33-0) and Shaw (38-19).

This matchup will likely be the most watched CIAA Football event this year due to VUU star running back and 2022 Harlon Hill Award (Division II’s most valuable football player) finalist and defending CIAA Offensive Player of the Year, Jada Byers. The Bridgeton, NJ junior was a 2022 NCAA Division II statistical champion in rushing yards (1,928), rushing yards per game (175.3) and all-purpose yardage (205.09). This standout is a generational talent that’s caught the attention of NFL scouts and may lead to improving his draft stock to late-round status.

First-right contracts allow athletic entities to broadcast prime games to their partner while maximizing visibility and revenue. ESPN has a first-rights deal with the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), one of two NCAA Division I HBCU leagues as secondary games are shown via HBCU GO. An example of this system is ESPN2 showcasing the Jackson State versus Florida A&M battle (2023 Orange Blossom Classic) while HBCU GO showed the Texas Southern versus Grambling State contest online and on TheGrio cable channel/app.
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