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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | February 4, 2022

HBCU football championship history

Celebration Bowl MVP Shaq Davis discusses South Carolina State's victory over Jackson State

Football at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, better known as HBCUs, has been played since the early 1900s, overcoming adversity to produce numerous champions. Let's take a look at the championship history of HBCU football across its major conferences.

Throughout the history of HBCU football, many teams have claimed Black College Football National Championships. At times, multiple teams have claimed the Black College Football Championship, leading to frequent debates over what program is the best team in the sport.

MORE: Everything that happened in the 2021 HBCU football season | 2021 Celebration Bowl | Final 2021 Rankings

Rather than diving into the Black College Football title discussion, sparking further debates, this article looks at the conference champions across the MEAC and SWAC in the FCS and the CIAA and SIAC in Division II.

You can click or tap each of the links below to jump ahead to a section:

MEAC Championship History

Here's the list of MEAC champions. South Carolina State has the most championships with 18 after winning the 2021 conference title.

Championships by school

Total championships School
18 South Carolina State
11 North Carolina A&T*
8 Bethune-Cookman*, Florida A&M*
5 North Carolina Central, Hampton*
4 Morgan State, Delaware State
2 Howard

*Schools no longer compete in MEAC football

Complete championship history

Year Champion
2021 South Carolina State
2019 North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State
2018 North Carolina A&T
2017 North Carolina A&T
2016 North Carolina Central
2015 Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central
2014 Bethune-Cookman, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, South Carolina State
2013 Bethune-Cookman, South Carolina State
2012 Bethune-Cookman
2011 Vacated
2010 Bethune-Cookman, South Carolina State, Florida A&M
2009 South Carolina State
2008 South Carolina State
2007 Delaware State
2006 Hampton
2005 Hampton
2004 Hampton, South Carolina State
2003 North Carolina A&T
2002 Bethune-Cookman
2001 Florida A&M
2000 Florida A&M
1999 North Carolina A&T
1998 Florida A&M, Hampton
1997 Hampton
1996 Florida A&M
1995 Florida A&M
1994 South Carolina State
1993 Howard
1992 North Carolina A&T
1991 North Carolina A&T
1990 Florida A&M
1989 Delaware State
1988 Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State, Florida A&M
1987 Howard
1986 North Carolina A&T
1985 Delaware State
1984 Bethune-Cookman
1983 South Carolina State
1982 South Carolina State
1981 South Carolina State
1980 South Carolina State
1979 Morgan State
1978 South Carolina State
1977 South Carolina State
1976 South Carolina State, Morgan State
1975 North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State
1974 South Carolina State
1973 North Carolina Central
1972 North Carolina Central
1971 Morgan State

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SWAC Championship History

Here's the list of SWAC champions. Grambling State has the most championships with 25. Jackson State won the 2021 SWAC championship, defeating Prairie View A&M 27-10.

Championships by school

Total Championships School
25 Grambling State
20 Southern
18 Jackson State
13 Alcorn State
11 Prairie View A&M
10 Wiley College*, Langston College*
4 Texas College*
3 Texas Southern
2 Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Paul Quinn College*
1 Bishop College*, Sam Houston*

*Schools no longer compete in SWAC football

Complete Championship History

year champion
2021 Jackson State
2020-21 Alabama A&M
2019 Alcorn State
2018 Alcorn State
2017 Grambling State
2016 Grambling State
2015 Alcorn State
2014 Alcorn State
2013 Southern
2012 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
2011 Grambling State
2010 Vacated
2009 Prairie View A&M
2008 Grambling State
2007 Jackson State
2006 Alabama A&M
2005 Grambling State
2004 Alabama State
2003 Southern
2002 Grambling State
2001 Grambling State
2000 Grambling State
1999 Southern
1998 Southern
1997 Southern
1996 Jackson State
1995 Jackson State
1994 Alcorn State, Grambling State
1993 Southern
1992 Alcorn State
1991 Alabama State
1990 Jackson State
1989 Jackson State
1988 Jackson State
1987 Jackson State
1986 Jackson State
1985 Jackson State, Grambling State
1984 Alcorn State
1983 Grambling State
1982 Jackson State
1981 Jackson State
1980 Grambling State, Jackson State
1979 Grambling State, Alcorn State
1978 Grambling State
1977 Grambling State
1976 Alcorn State
1975 Grambling State, Southern
1974 Grambling State, Alcorn State
1973 Grambling State, Jackson State
1972 Grambling State, Jackson State
1971 Grambling State, Jackson State
1970 Alcorn State
1969 Alcorn State
1968 Alcorn State, Grambling State, Texas Southern
1967 Grambling State
1966 Grambling State, Southern, Texas Southern, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
1965 Grambling State
1964 Prairie View A&M
1963 Prairie View A&M
1962 Jackson State
1961 Jackson State
1960 Southern, Prairie View A&M, Grambling State
1959 Southern
1958 Prairie View A&M
1957 Wiley College
1956 Texas Southern, Langston College
1955 Southern
1954 Prairie View A&M
1953 Prairie View A&M
1952 Prairie View A&M
1951 Prairie View A&M
1950 Southern
1949 Southern, Langston College
1948 Southern
1947 Southern
1946 Southern
1945 Wiley College
1944 Wiley College, Texas College, Langston College
1943 N/A
1942 Southern, Langston College
1941 N/A
1940 Southern, Langston College
1939 Langston College
1938 Southern, Langston College
1937 Southern, Langston College
1936 Texas College, Langston College
1935 Texas College
1934 Texas College
1933 Langston College, Prairie View A&M
1932 Wiley College
1931 Prairie View A&M
1930 Wiley College
1929 Wiley College
1928 Wiley College
1927 Wiley College
1926 Sam Houston
1925 Bishop College
1924 Paul Quinn College
1923 Wiley College
1922 Paul Quinn College
1921 Wiley College

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Celebration Bowl History

Since 2015, the MEAC and SWAC conference champions face off in a postseason football clash known as the Celebration Bowl. In the Celebration Bowl, two of the premier HBCU football programs in a particular year at the FCS level meet to determine who is the best. Traditionally, the game is in Atlanta, Georgia, a hub for HBCU culture. The Celebration Bowl celebrates great football and HBCU tradition on a national stage.

South Carolina State's 2021 victory brings the MEAC's record against the SWAC to 5-1 in the all-time series. Here's the list of Celebration Bowl champions. 

Year Champion Score Runner-Up Site
2021 South Carolina State (MEAC) 31-10 Jackson State (SWAC) Mercedes-Benz Stadium,
Atlanta GA
2020 — Canceled due to Covid-19 -- -- -- --
2019 North Carolina A&T (MEAC) 64-44 Alcorn State (SWAC) Mercedes-Benz Stadium,
Atlanta GA
2018 North Carolina A&T (MEAC) 24-22 Alcorn State (SWAC) Mercedes-Benz Stadium,
Atlanta GA
2017 North Carolina A&T (MEAC) 21-14 Grambling State (SWAC) Mercedes-Benz Stadium,
Atlanta GA
2016 Grambling State (SWAC) 10-9 North Carolina Central (MEAC) Georgia Dome,
Atlanta GA
2015 North Carolina A&T (MEAC) 41-34 Alcorn State (SWAC) Georgia Dome,
Atlanta GA

Division II HBCU football

HBCU football at the Division II level also has a storied history led by two conferences, the CIAA and the SIAC. The CIAA is the oldest HBCU football conference. Both the CIAA and the SIAC have former members who now play in the FCS that previously won conference championships. 

MORE: Here are 6 can't-miss HBCU football game-day atmospheres

CIAA Championship History

Here's the list of CIAA champions. Morgan State has the most championships with 19, but Virginia State and Winston-Salem have the most championships among active CIAA members with 12. Bowie State won the 2021 CIAA championship, its third straight and fourth overall.

Championships by school

Total championships School
19 Morgan State*
13 Hampton*
12 Virginia State, Winston-Salem
10 Virginia Union
8 North Carolina Central*
5 Shaw, North Carolina A&T*
4 Bowie State, Norfolk State*
3 Fayetteville State, Maryland-Eastern Shore*
2 Livingstone, West Virginia State*
1 Johnson C. Smith, Elizabeth City State, Howard*, Delaware State*

*Schools no longer compete in CIAA football

Complete championship history

YEAR Champion
2021 Bowie State
2020

Canceled due to Covid-19

2019 Bowie State
2018 Bowie State
2017 Virginia State
2016

Winston-Salem State

2015

Winston-Salem State

2014 Virginia State
2013 Canceled
2012

Winston-Salem State

2011

Winston-Salem State

2010

Shaw University

2009

Fayetteville State

2008

Shaw University

2007

Shaw University

2006

North Carolina Central

2005

North Carolina Central

2004

Shaw University

2003

Fayetteville State

2002

Fayetteville State

2001 Virginia Union
2000

Winston-Salem State

1999

Winston-Salem State

1998 Livingstone
1997 Livingstone
1996 Virginia State
1995 Virginia State
1994 Hampton
1993 Hampton
1992 Hampton
1991

Winston-Salem State

1990

Winston-Salem State

1989 Vacated
1988

Winston-Salem State

1987

Winston-Salem State

1986 Virginia Union
1985 Hampton
1984 Norfolk State
1983 Virginia Union
1982 Virginia Union
1981 Virginia Union
1980 N.C. Central
1979 Virginia Union
1978

Winston-Salem State

1977

Winston-Salem State

1976 Norfolk State
1975 Norfolk State
1974 Norfolk State
1973 Virginia Union
1972 Virginia State
1971

Elizabeth City State

1970 Virginia State
1969

Johnson C. Smith

1968 Morgan State
1967 Morgan State
1966 Morgan State
1965 Morgan State
1964

North Carolina A&T

1963 N.C. College
1962 Morgan State
1961 N.C. College
1960

Maryland State

1959

North Carolina A&T

1958

North Carolina A&T

1957

Maryland State

1956

N.C. College, Morgan State, Delaware State

1955

Maryland State

1954 N.C. College
1953 N.C. College
1952 Virginia State
1951

West Virginia State

1950

North Carolina A&T

1949 Morgan State
1948

West Virginia State

1947 Shaw
1946 Morgan State
1945 Virginia State
1944 Morgan State
1943 Morgan State
1942 Morgan State
1941 Morgan State
1940 Morgan State
1939 Virginia State
1938 Virginia State
1937 Morgan State
1936 Virginia State
1935 Morgan State
1934 Morgan State
1933 Morgan State
1932 Morgan State
1931 Hampton
1930 Morgan State
1929 Virginia State
1928 Hampton
1927

North Carolina A&T

1926 Hampton
1925 Hampton
1924 Lincoln
1923 Virginia Union
1922 Hampton
1921 Virginia Union
1920

N/A

1919

N/A

1918

N/A

1917 Virginia Union
1916 Hampton
1915 Hampton
1914 Hampton
1913 Hampton
1912 Howard

👀: The greatest individual seasons in HBCU football history

SIAC Championship History

Here's the list of SIAC champions. Tuskegee has the most championships with 28. Albany State won the 2021 SIAC championship, ending Miles' attempt at a three-peat.

Championships by school

Total Championships School
28 Tuskegee
27 Florida A&M*
15 Albany State
12 Fort Valley State
10 Alabama A&M*
7 Morehouse, Miles
6 Fisk*
5 Clark-Atlanta, Alabama State*
4 Morris Brown*, Knoxville*
3 Bethune-Cookman*
2 Talladega*
1 Lane

*Schools no longer compete in SIAC football

Complete Championship History

Year Champion
2021 Albany State
2020

Canceled due to Covid-19

2019 Miles
2018 Miles
2017 Tuskegee
2016 Fort Valley State
2015 Miles
2014 Tuskegee
2013 Albany State
2012 Tuskegee
2011 Miles
2010 Albany State
2009 Tuskegee
2008 Tuskegee
2007 Tuskegee
2006 Albany State
2005 Albany State
2004 Albany State
2003 Albany State
2002 Tuskegee
2001 Tuskegee
2000 Tuskegee
1999 Fort Valley State
1998 Tuskegee
1997 Albany State
1996 Albany State
1995 Albany State
1994 Albany State
1993 Albany State
1992 Fort Valley State
1991

Alabama A&M, Clark Atlanta, Fort Valley State, Morehouse, Tuskegee

1990 Alabama A&M
1989 Alabama A&M
1988 Albany State
1987

DII: Alabama A&M, Tuskegee
DIII: Knoxville

1986

DII: Albany State
DIII: Knoxville

1985

DII: Fort Valley State, Albany State
DIII: Miles

1984

DII: Alabama State
DIII: Miles

1983

DII: Fort Valley State
DIII: Knoxville

1982

DII: Fort Valley State
DIII: Lane

1981

DII: Alabama A&M
DIII: Knoxville

1980

DII: Alabama A&M
DIII: Fort Valley State

1979

DII: Alabama A&M
DIII: Morehouse

1978 DII: Florida A&M
DIII: Clark
1977 DII: Florida A&M
DIII: Clark, Miles
1976

DII: Bethune-Cookman
DIII: Fort Valley State

1975

DII: Bethune-Cookman
DIII: Fisk

1974 DII: Tuskegee
DIII: Clark
1973

DII: Bethune-Cookman
DIII: Fisk

1972

DII: Alabama A&M
DIII: Fort Valley State

1971

DII: Alabama A&M
DIII: Fort Valley State

1970

DII: Tuskegee
DIII: Fort Valley State

1969

Div A: Florida A&M
Div B: Tuskegee

1968

Div A: Florida A&M
Div B: Tuskegee

1967

Div A: Florida A&M
Div B: Tuskegee

1966

Div A: Alabama A&M
Div B: Alabama State

1965 Florida A&M
1964 Florida A&M
1963 Florida A&M
1962 Alabama State
1961 Florida A&M
1960 Florida A&M
1959 Florida A&M
1958 Florida A&M
1957 Florida A&M
1956 Florida A&M
1955 Florida A&M
1954 Florida A&M
1953 Florida A&M
1952 Florida A&M
1951 Morris Brown
1950 Florida A&M
1949 Florida A&M
1948 Florida A&M
1947 Florida A&M
1946 Florida A&M
1945 Florida A&M
1944 Tuskegee
1943 Florida A&M
1942 Florida A&M
1941 Morris Brown
1940 Morris Brown
1939 Alabama State
1938 Florida A&M
1937 Florida A&M
1936 Tuskegee
1935 Alabama State
1934 Morris Brown
1933 Tuskegee
1932 Tuskegee
1931 Tuskegee, Clark
1930 Tuskegee
1929 Tuskegee
1928 Tuskegee, Clark
1927 Tuskegee
1926 Tuskegee
1925 Tuskegee
1924 Tuskegee
1923

Morehouse, Fisk

1922 Morehouse
1921 Morehouse
1920 Morehouse
1919 Fisk
1918 Talladega
1917 Tuskegee
1916 Morehouse
1915 Fisk
1914 Talladega
1913 Fisk

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