NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — On Saturday, February 4, 2023 the Prudential Center in downtown Newark will host the 2nd annual INVESCO QQQ Legacy Classic, a basketball showcase featuring four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This year’s event, airing on TNT, will feature a double-header pitting the Morgan State Bears-against the Delaware State Hornets at 1 pm and the Norfolk State Spartans against the Hampton University Pirates at 4 pm.
The Legacy Classic was created by actor and producer, Michael B. Jordan along with corporate sponsors WME Sports, the sports division of WME (an Endeavor company), Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media).
Starting at 10 a.m. the Classic offers an immersive cultural experience highlighting additional elements of HBCU life including: a forum on Black women in sports management, along with musical performances, career opportunities, a college fair and more. The inaugural event involved over 20 HBCUs and partners donating over $350,000 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the participating universities and to support local Newark community organizations.
The New Jersey Alumni Chapter of Morgan State University Alumni Association, is hosting the forum on “Black Female Achievement in Sports Management,” featuring the Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) and three HBCU Athletic Directors. Claudia Ruffin, President of Ruffin Consulting and Training will be the event’s moderator. MSUAA-NJ President Anthony Hudgins commented that “…each of these accomplished women has broken through the glass ceiling in a male dominated industry and demonstrated their brilliance, dedication and commitment in challenging racial and gender barriers. Their presence is an empowering statement that encourages everyone to maximize their potential”. The Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsors this forum.
“As a city renowned for being a sports and education destination, Newark takes enormous pride in welcoming the brightest minds from Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country, and their many alumni who call the Greater Newark region home. We are a city celebrated for its arts and culture, sport teams, and institutions of higher learning, and so we salute HBCU’s and their importance to our society — for educating, embracing, nurturing and developing Black talent. This panel of distinguished women in their field exemplifies legacy, history, impact, and lifts up HBCU’s collegiate excellence,” said City of Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “I know this weekend’s 2nd annual INVESCO QQQ Legacy Classic will demonstrate the strong community spirit of HBCU schools and will have a significant impact on participants at the Prudential Center as well as those watching on TNT.”
Sonya Stills, Commissioner of Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC).
Assuming the responsibilities on January 1, 2022, Ms. Sills became the first female commissioner in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and HBCU Division I history. Prior to assuming her new position, Ms. Stills had already dedicated 19 years of her career to the Conference, which is famously home to historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. Ms. Sills had previously served as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer and as the MEAC’s Director of Esports, a new, cutting-edge initiative that began in the summer of 2020. Prior to joining the MEAC, Ms. Stills served four years as Hampton University’s Coordinator of Athletic Academic Support. Ms. Stills has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Counseling from Old Dominion Univ. and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Hampton Univ. She also graduated from the Sports Management Institute in 2002 and the NACWAA / HERS Institute for Administrative Advancement in 2008.
Dena Freeman-Patton, Athletic Director, Morgan State University
Ms. Freeman Patton, brings to her position over 25 years of experience as an administrator and executive in intercollegiate athletics. She previously served in appointments at the Univ. of New Orleans, California State Univ. – Bakersfield, Georgia State University, Univ. of Maryland–College Park and most recently at California State Univ. – Dominguez Hills, where she oversaw 10 sports, and managed more than 50 personnel, including staff and coaches. A native of Baltimore, MD, she was a three-sport athlete at Lake Clifton High and was lettered as a Division I student-athlete in basketball at Liberty University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management in 1996. She also has a Masters in Sports Administration from Georgia State University.
Alecia Shields-Gadson, Athletic Director, Delaware State University
Ms. Shields-Gadson has nearly 30 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics as a senior level administrator and head coach. She joined the Delaware State staff as Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance and Senior Woman Administrator in 2016 and began her tenure as Athletic Director in 2022. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, she was a successful track & field student-athlete at Southern University at Baton Rouge where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English/Communications in 1992. She also was awarded a Masters in Athletic Administration and Secondary Education/Physical Education from Alcorn State in 1995. Currently she is enrolled in Delaware State University’s Educational Leadership doctoral program.
Paula Jackson, Interim Athletic Director, Hampton University
Dr. Jackson has over 20 years of experience in collegiate athletics, with stops at Alabama State, Mississippi Valley State, Lincoln Univ of Missouri, Savannah State, Morehead State, and Clark Atlanta Univ. She also spent 5 seasons with the NFL Atlanta Falcons as a part of the Public Relations/Game Day Operations Team. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native is a graduate of Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast and print journalism and also earned a MBA in marketing from Clark Atlanta University. Recently, she earned her Ph.D in Education with a specialization in Athletic Administration from Northcentral University. Dr. Jackson is also the CEO of Sports Enfocus, LLC, a public relations and development firm dedicated to sports entities.
Melody Webb, Athletic Director, Norfolk State University (Ms. Webb will not be in attendance at the forum)
Ms. Webb joined the staff at Norfolk State in 2014 and was appointed Athletics Director in 2020. She came to Norfolk State from the Central Intercollegiate Athletics Assoc. (CIAA) where she served as Assoc. Commissioner of Business Operations. Previous to that appointment she served stints at George Washington Univ., Elizabeth City Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland. Ms. Webb is a native of Chicago, IL, and has a BA in Accounting from Savannah State, and a Masters in Public Administration from Bowie State Univ. She is presently pursuing a Doctorate in Education from the United States Sports Academy.
Claudia Ruffin, Moderator. Ms. Ruffin is the President and Founder of Ruffin Consulting and Training, LLC. Ms. Ruffin is a Morgan State graduate (B.A. and MBA) and whose experience spans over twenty years and includes designing, customizing/tailoring and delivery of hundreds of leadership development programs; developing thousands of employees through inclusion and diversity that goes beyond awareness to sustainable results-driven behavior; supporting talent management strategies; coaching executives and directors with profits and losses as well as responsibilities of and business revenue growth of multi-million dollars.
Greater Newark CVB
Contact: Ricardo Salazar
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SOURCE Greater Newark Convention and Visitor Bureau