Albany State A.D. Richard Williams
CHICAGO — Albany State athletic director Richard Williams called today’s 16th annual Chicago Football Classic one of the greatest opportunities presented to the Rams’ athletic program.
The game between the Rams and Kentucky State will be played on the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field, marking ASU’s second straight trip to play in an NFL venue.
The trip also worked out for ASU financially. Williams, in an exclusive interview with The Herald on Thursday night, wouldn’t divulge the exact amount the school made from the game, but he said the contract was substantial.
“Let’s put it this way, it’s more than a home game,” Williams said. “It was about a $750,000 to $1 million contract (we signed to come play in this game) when you add in the flying, charter plane, busing and food. The band took five buses, and the cheerleaders took another. All of that was included in the contract.”
Larry Huggins, the founder of the Chicago Football Classic, invited ASU and Kentucky State to the game during a three-way conference call with Williams and KSU athletic director Denisha Hendricks this past offseason.
“(Huggins) said he had a wonderful opportunity for us to play in Chicago, and without a doubt we said OK,” Williams said.
This afternoon’s football game highlights more than a dozen events associated with the Chicago Football Classic, including a comedy show, parties and a golf outing. ASU’s band will compete in the HBCU Battle of the Bands, which will take place immediately after the game.
“It’s really not just a football game, it’s a football event,” Williams said.
Many fans, alumni and students made the trip and filled up four entire floors at a downtown hotel for the weekend, Williams said.
“Ram Nation is here,” Williams said. “It’s great for the students who made the trip. We had students who took a plane for the first time and came to Chicago for the first time. Some of the players are playing in an NFL stadium for the first time. It’s a feather in our hat for ASU.”
On Thursday, ASU offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner, receivers coach Anthony Kelly and a number of players visited patients at the University of Chicago Hospital, and head coach Mike White took part in a luncheon. Other than that, White said the team is trying to stay focused on the game.
“We are just going to try to stick to our regular schedule the best we can,” White said.