Longtime Detroit Lion Robert Porcher III, Writer-Educator Nikki Giovanni among Those to be honored at Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Legends Reception

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., August 23, 2011 – Three former NFL Pro Bowl players lead a group of five honorees who will be recognized at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Legends Reception at Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, near Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m. ET. The evening will honor long-time Detroit Lion Robert Porcher III (South Carolina State) and NFL Hall of Famers Ken Houston (Prairie View A&M) & Larry Little (Bethune-Cookman), in addition to Vice Admiral David Brewer III (Prairie View A&M) and writer-educator Nikki Giovanni (Fisk University).

The reception will honor individuals who graduated from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Each honoree will receive an HBCU Trailblazer Award in recognition of the impact made in his or her respective career and community. ESPN sportscaster Jay Harris will host the evening’s festivities. 

The Legends Reception will precede the seventh annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disneyfeaturing Bethune-Cookman of the MEAC against Prairie View A&M of the SWAC. The game will be played Sunday, Sept. 4, at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., at noon on ESPN HD.

“We are pleased to honor this fine group of trailblazers from the HBCU community,” said Nikki Godfrey, executive director of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. “They individually display not only a great commitment to their respective professions, but also to the community as a whole. We salute their achievements and recognize their numerous accomplishments.”

Each year, the game pits a MEAC team against a SWAC opponent at a neutral site located within the footprint of one of the conferences. Several additional events will take place around the game, including a high school career panel and the halftime Battle of the Bands.

Tickets for the 2011 MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets.  Tickets are $30 for reserved seating and $20 for general admission, plus applicable taxes and fees. Travel options including discounted hotel accommodations, game tickets and specially-priced Theme Park tickets are available through Anthony Travel, the official travel provider of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Please visit AnthonyTravel.com or call (888) 632-6951.

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN. For more information about the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, or to join the event’s following on Facebook and Twitter, please visit the event’s official Web site at www.meacswacchallenge.com or at www.espnplus.com/msc.php

About the  Legends 

VICE ADMIRAL DAVID L. BREWER III (Representing: Prairie View A&M)

Brewer has had a storied career serving his country for more than 35 years in the United States Navy, where he rose through the ranks to become a vice admiral. His distinguished naval career started in 1970, when he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy by former Secretary of the Navy, the late Senator John Chafee (R-R.I.). He was a member of the first graduating class of the first Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit established at a historically black university, Prairie View A&M. Brewer steadily climbed the ladder in the Navy, and was named the Vice Chief of Naval Education and Training in 1999, and was later appointed Commander, Military Sealift Command. In 2006, Brewer retired from the Navy after more than three decades of outstanding service. The Orlando, Fla., native, became superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

NIKKI GIOVANNI (Representing: Fisk University)

As a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator, Giovanni has opened millions of eyes with her words. One of the most widely read American poets, Giovanni remains as committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Giovanni grew up in Lincoln Heights, a mostly black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1968 and then attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry in 1968, and has authored some 30 books, including her autobiography. Giovanni’s honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career, including the recipient of some 25 honorary degrees. She was the first honoree of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and has also been given the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from the National Council of Negro Women. Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

KEN HOUSTON (Representing: Prairie View A&M)

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, Houston is considered one of the game’s best defensive players. Houston started his 14-year NFL career as a free safety in 1967 with the Houston Oilers, who picked him in the ninth round of the AFL-NFL draft from Prairie View A&M. The 6-foot-3, 197-pounder landed a starting job in just his third pro game. Houston had good size, speed and athletic ability. He was chosen as an American League All-Star in 1968 and 1969. After six years with the Oilers, Houston was traded in 1973 to the Washington Redskins for five players—a deal that attests to Houston’s overall talent. He played seven seasons in Washington. In 1980, Houston retired from professional football, finishing his career with 49 interceptions for 898 yards and nine TDs, and 12 Pro Bowl selections. A native of Lufkin, Texas, Houston played on some strong Prairie View A&M teams from 1963 to 1967. After his playing career ended, Houston started coaching scholastic football at Wheatley High School and Westbury High School in Houston, and later was the defensive backs coach at the University of Houston from 1986 to 1990.

LARRY LITTLE (Representing: Bethune-Cookman)

Little is regarded as one of the greatest offensive linemen ever to play the game. The former Pro Bowl offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins during the 1970s, was a six-time All-Pro selection, and played on some great Don Shula-coached teams. Little was part of Miami’s first AFC Eastern Division title in 1971, and two Super Bowls titles. Little played most of his professional football career in his hometown of Miami, where he played football at Booker T. Washington High School. After receiving a scholarship to Bethune-Cookman, Little became a huge star in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, receiving all-conference honors. Although Little was a tremendous player for the Wildcats, he went undrafted by the NFL. In 1967, he signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent and was traded to Miami in 1968. A 6-foot-1, 245-pounder, Little emerged as an outstanding right guard, and was a six-time first team All-NFL selection, a five-time Pro Bowler and was selected as a three-time NFL Players Association’s AFC Lineman of the Year. In 1980, Little retired from professional football and moved into coaching. He was head coach of his alma mater from 1983-91 and then went on to coach the Ohio Glory in the World League of American Football for one season and at North Carolina Central, where he stayed until 1998. In 1993, Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is currently a community liaison specialist for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

ROBERT PORCHER III (Representing: South Carolina State)

Porcher is one of the all-time great players from South Carolina State. The versatile Porcher played every position on the defensive line, and in 1991, he totaled 88 total tackles, 15 sacks and 24 tackles-for-loss – earning Division I-AA Defensive Player of the Year honors. He went on to be the first South Carolina State player selected in the first round of the NFL draft, where he went on to play in 187 games with the Detroit Lions, setting a club record with 95.5 sacks, and appearing in three Pro Bowls. From 2002-06, Porcher—along with former business partner Frank Taylor—oversaw the Detroit Football Classic, which included a game plus a weekend-long set of events including a charity ball, a Greek step-show and a halftime battle of the bands. Porcher was inducted into the South Carolina State Athletics University Hall of Fame in 1998 and has his No. 94 jersey retired in 2001. Porcher has also donated $100,000 to the scholarship fund at South Carolina State.

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Media Contact: Rachel Margolis at 860-766-2798, or rachel.l.margolis@espn.com