Historically Black Delaware State and the Predominantly White University of Delaware Finally Have Agreed to Meet on the Football Field

The predominantly white University of Delaware has been playing intercollegiate football since 1889. Historically black Delaware State University has had a football team since 1905. Both teams play in the NCAA’s Football Championship Series, formerly known as Division I-AA.

Yet for over a century the two schools never scheduled a game against their in-state rivals. At one point racism was probably the overriding concern. But in recent years the explanation most likely has nothing to do with racism.

The University of Delaware has a storied football history. As such, it has a major recruiting advantage, among both black and white football players, within the state of Delaware. More than 42 percent of the players on football scholarships at the University of Delaware are black. Most likely, the University of Delaware was unwilling to risk a loss on the football field to its cross-state rival for fear of losing this recruiting advantage.

But after the two schools met in an NCAA playoff game in December 2007, the calls for a regular intrastate rivalry game became intense. Now the two schools have reached an agreement to play this September and also every year in the 2012-14 period.