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The Southern Heritage Classic has called off its scheduled Sept. 12 game between Jackson State and Tennessee State in the first known Division I football cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I know this is a great disappointment to many who consider SHC one of the major highlights of the year," founder Fred Jones said in Wednesday's announcement. "The health and safety of our attendees along with that of our staff, sponsors and others is a top priority."

This is the second cancellation in three years for the game between the two historically black universities from Mississippi and Tennessee that is played at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. The 2018 game was called due to weather.

Officials are offering refunds, and Jones said he encourages following safety and social distancing precautions so everyone can return to usual activities as soon as possible.

The Liberty Bowl is home to the Memphis Tigers, and school officials issued a statement saying they were made aware of the "difficult decision" to cancel this year's Southern Heritage Classic.

Memphis currently expects to have only season ticket holders at home games this season. No sales of tickets for single games are planned.

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