Rivals Shaw and Saint Augustine’s will share football stadium starting in 2019

Adrian Jones introduced as new Shaw football coach

VIDEO: Shaw hires N.C. Central assistant coach Adrian Jones as new head football coach. Jones talks about his plan for the program.
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VIDEO: Shaw hires N.C. Central assistant coach Adrian Jones as new head football coach. Jones talks about his plan for the program.

The Shaw University football team finally has a place to call home in Raleigh and it’s in the most unlikeliest of places.

Late Thursday afternoon, Saint Augustine’s University and Shaw University announced an agreement that both the Falcons and Bears will play their home football games at the George Williams Athletic Complex on the campus of Saint Augustine’s. That’s right, Shaw’s home football field will be on the campus of its biggest and most hated rival.

For the last 12 years the Bears have played their “home” games at Durham County Stadium, 28 miles from campus. Since football returned to Shaw in 2003, the Bears have never had a true home field. They have played home games at various sites across Raleigh, before moving to Durham County Stadium, where they’ve been since 2007.

Shaw players run sprints during practice in this August 2016 file photo. Robert Willett

SAU reinstated it’s football program in 2002 and, like Shaw, played at different schools in Raleigh, such as Enloe and Broughton High Schools, before the George Williams Athletic Complex opened in 2011. The on-campus stadium seats 2,500.

Presidents at both schools, and each program’s athletic directors, feel like this is a perfect situation for all parties involved.

“This is the right decision for both universities. As institutions of higher learning, both schools have a responsibility to support each other. I look forward to watching Saint Augustine’s University and Shaw University host football games at the George Williams Athletic Complex this upcoming season,” Saint Augustine’s interim President Dr. Gaddis Faulcon said in a press release.

Rev. Gaddis Faulcon
Dr. Gaddis Faulcon is the interim president of Saint Augustine’s University

Dr. Paulette Dillard, president of Shaw University, added “We are pleased and excited that Shaw students, alumni, and fans will be able to attend our home games more easily. This is a wonderful demonstration of cooperation and support, and we look forward to additional opportunities to work together for the mutual benefit of both universities.”

Shaw’s Director of Athletics, Dr. Alfonza Carter said of the agreement, “It’s exciting for all involved that Shaw University football is returning to Raleigh. With this agreement, everyone comes out ahead.”

George Williams, the namesake of the complex and athletic director at SAU, called the agreement a “victory for Saint Augustine’s and Shaw.”

Being able to play games in Raleigh, 1.8 miles from campus, will cut cost on traveling to Durham each home game and allow more students and alumni in Raleigh to make the short trip across town to support their Bears.

Shaw head football coach Adrian Jones directs his team during practice in 2016. Robert Willett

Shaw’s football schedule was released Friday afternoon and the Bears will play their first game in Raleigh on Sept. 14 against defending CIAA champion Bowie State. That same weekend the Falcons will play at Mars Hill University. SAUs home opener is the following week versus Virginia State, while Shaw hits the road that week, traveling to Murfreesboro for a showdown with Chowan.

Between the two schools, there will be a game played at the George Williams Complex for seven straight weeks to start the season. The only weekend with no games in action will be Oct. 26. That weekend SAU will play at Fayetteville State, while Shaw travels to Johnson C. Smith. Livingstone, a fellow CIAA member, will be well acquainted with the stadium. The Blue Bears are the only school in the conference who will play there twice, coming to Raleigh in consecutive weeks to play SAU on Oct. 12 and Shaw on Oct. 19.

The Bears and Falcons clash at the Raleigh Classic on Nov. 9.

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.