That “Ole ‘Bama State Spirit” meets Hollywood this year, as world famous entertainer Steve Harvey will partner with ASU to sponsor the 2016 Turkey Day Classic.
“I’m bringing Hollywood to Montgomery,” said Steve Harvey, who visited the ASU campus on Saturday, April 2 to announce that he is partnering with the University to sponsor the annual Turkey Day Classic.
Harvey joined President Gwendolyn E. Boyd, ASU Board of Trustees Chairman Locy Baker and a host of other dignitaries in making the announcement.
“I want to thank Chairman Baker and Dr. Boyd for believing in the vision that I had,” said Harvey. “What I decided to do was put my machine behind (the Turkey Day Classic) and bring a little Hollywood to Alabama, especially for our young people because they are our future. We are going to do some special things.”
The event was held on the field of The ASU Stadium. Fans stood in the bleachers as the ASU cheerleaders and the Hornets football team ran onto the field, forming a path for Harvey’s entrance. The crowd cheered as the popular entertainer, entrepreneur and businessman was driven to the news conference platform by Boyd.
While Harvey did not give complete details of plans for the Turkey Day Classic, he did say that he planned to take the traditional event to a new level, with a heavy focus on students.
“I have put together a staff that going to sit down with the student body and find out what they want to do,” said Harvey. “It’s about everybody; it’s about the whole campus. Right now, the most important thing is education at this university right here — to grow enrollment and enrich the lives of these young people so that y’all can be great. My objective is to make as many millionaires as I can…I joke around a lot, but I’m serious. I know a lot about God and I know a lot about business. I know a lot about starting at the bottom…and how to get to the top. So, we’re going to bring some of that here to ASU and we’re going to try inspire some young people and we’re going to have a good time in the process.”
Boyd said the University is excited and honored to have Harvey as a partner.
“Today, I am proud to announce that ASU has a new partner. A partner that will help ASU to succeed, a partner who understands the value of a college education, a partner who has a sincere passion to see young people get every opportunity they can to go to college and to reach their fullest potential…a partner who genuinely cares for people and is always moving forward in the grace and favor of God to help other people. Today, I am proud that ASU has the honor and the blessing of having Mr. Steve Harvey partner with us to help us be the best university that we can be–not just the best HBCU, but the best university that we can be. We thank God for our divine connection with Mr. Harvey.” Boyd added.
Boyd also drew cheers from the crowd with the official announcement that the Turkey Day Classic is moving back to Thanksgiving Day.
“I grew up here in Montgomery, and I remember the excitement of Thanksgiving Day,” said Boyd. “And even when I was serving as Miss ASU, I remember the thrill of riding in the parade on Turkey Day. And so, as I return home as the first female president of Alabama State University, it is most appropriate that we honor this time-honored tradition of the oldest black college classic.”
In his remarks, Harvey recognized local businessmen Alfred Seawright and Greg Calhoun, and credited Calhoun with helping him to make the decision to support the Classic.
Harvey and Calhoun are longtime friends and business partners, and according to Harvey, are working to bring jobs to Alabama.
“We have the pleasure of traveling with him (Harvey) all over the world and seeing him do things that are unbelievable,” said Calhoun. “And to see him come to Alabama and share the love, it means so much to me and my family and Dr. Seawright and his family. We just thought, if you’re going to show love, why not show it at home.”
Event highlights also included a presentation of Hornets paraphernalia to Harvey by SGA President Jeremy Crum and Miss ASU Muriel Pannell, as well as a welcome from two students from ASU’s Zelia Stephens Early Childhood Center.
Before leaving the stadium, Harvey stopped to speak to the Hornets football team just a few hours after they completed a practice and scrimmage game. He encouraged the players to put their education first and to take advantage of the opportunities that they are given.
“The talk he gave them was wonderful,” said Head Football Coach Brian Jenkins. “I hope that what he said struck home with them. As the head coach, I am excited about this partnership with Mr. Harvey. I’m excited that he’s not only going to invest in the University, but also in our students.”
The Turkey Day Classic will be played on Thursday, Nov. 24, when the Hornets face the Miles College Golden Bears.
For season tickets and other game information, visit bamastatesports.com.
Source: Lois G. Russell, Alabama State University