Courtesy of NCCU Athletics
BRISTOL, Conn. – The Undefeated and ESPN+ are partnering to deliver a year-round home on the industry-leading sports streaming service for stories at the intersection of sports, race and culture. Why Not Us: North Carolina Central University Men’s Basketball, a new all-access docuseries executive produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is the first project to debut under The Undefeated on ESPN+.
“Why Not Us will spotlight the importance and uniqueness of HBCUs by chronicling the NCCU basketball team and the challenges they encounter throughout a season in my home state of North Carolina,” said Paul. “HBCUs face challenges to compete at the same level as PWIs due to lack of funding, resources and awareness. Despite the obstacles they face, Why Not Us shines a light on these amazing Black student athletes who attend HBCUs, and how these historically significant schools continue to enrich not only the Black community but our nation as a whole. It was important to tell this story with Roadside Entertainment as we have successfully partnered with them to tell a great story through Crossroads, another important documentary about inspirational Black athletes in North Carolina.”
“As a graduate of an HBCU – Winston-Salem State University – any issue that allows us to illuminate the great challenges that HBCU’s perpetually face, yet overcome day-after-day, is something that is going to garner my interest,” said Smith. “After asking my coach, the late, great Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines, what I could do for him in return for all he’s done for me, his answer was very simple: ‘Do all you can for this university, for any HBCU. Don’t let the world try and forget about it.’ This project is a step in that direction. It’s not just a project or a piece of work. It’s a mission. And I’m incredibly delighted and grateful that Chris Paul and ESPN asked me to come on board to make this happen.”
“Why Not Us is exactly the right show for our audience and this cultural moment, and Chris and Stephen A. are the ideal duo to deliver it,” said Brian Lockhart, vice president, ESPN Original Content and ESPN Films. “It combines their sports passion with the incredible impact of HBCUs on Black life in America. It’s authenticity is the new benchmark for the type of content we’re creating for ESPN+.”
“We are proud to bring our distinct brand of storytelling to ESPN+, and will continue to experiment and challenge convention,” said Kevin Merida, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated. “We are excited about the premiere of Why Not Us, and the attention this series gives to the vibrancy of HBCUs and the promise of their future.”
The Undefeated on ESPN+, available now on the streaming platform, offers fans a dynamic platform for year-round premium Black storytelling with The Undefeated sensibilities. A dedicated new section for the partnership launches today as home to new original content, curated collections and more, throughout the year on the sports streaming service. This represents The Undefeated’s latest expansion across the Walt Disney Company.