Stephen A. Smith (pictured above) speaking on his morning debate show, First Take. October 2023. (Youtube Screenshot)

 ESPN’s “First Take” is coming to Winston-Salem State University next week.

The show, starring Stephen A. Smith, Shannon Sharpe and host Molly Qerim, is ESPN’s top signature morning debate show, airing live on weekdays at 10 a.m. ET.

The show’s two-school HBCU tour starts at Savannah State on Nov. 6, followed by a stop at WSSU on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

It will be the first time the show has made an appearance at either school.

Smith, a 1991 WSSU graduate, is widely considered one of the most notable personalities in sports media. He attended WSSU on a basketball scholarship, playing under legendary basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines

Injuries ended Smith’s athletic career, so he instead focused on sports writing. He wrote for a number of publications, including the Winston-Salem Journal, the New York Daily News and Philadephia Inquirer, before he joined ESPN in 2005.

Sharpe, on the other hand, is a 1990 graduate of Savannah State University and was a three-time all-conference star there. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 1990 in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. He was the 192nd overall pick.

In his 13-year career, Sharpe became a three-time Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.  

“I’ve been a part of a whole bunch of exciting things throughout my years on First Take. But this may take the cake,” Smith said in an ESPN press release.

 “To have back-to-back days at HBCUs, on campus, live, providing Black Colleges with national television exposure is sensational within itself. But for the two universities to be the alma maters of Shannon Sharpe and myself … I just can’t express how excited I am.”

This event is not open to the general public due to limited seating, but will be available for students, faculty and staff to attend. 

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Jalon is a general assignment reporter for QCity Metro. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and an avid sports fan. (

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