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NBA takes deep dive with HBCUs, including a basketball classic

The NBA started shining a spotlight on HBCUs last winter during its All-Star Game. Its is now announcing a deeper dive with opportunities for all 107 HBCUs.

After showing some HBCU love during the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the league has decided to make a deeper investment going forward — including an HBCU Classic. 

The NBA announced an extension of its ongoing commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with new programs designed to create greater opportunity for students and alumni, encourage economic advancement and further celebrate their rich traditions.  As part of this partnership, the NBA will develop new programs and events focused on the HBCU community – specifically around professional development, career advancement and increased support and awareness for HBCU athletics and institutions. It will once again team up with the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to do the work. 

The NBA’s inaugural HBCU classic game will feature Howard University and Morgan State University of the MEAC. The game will be played at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland on February 19, 2022 and will be broadcast live. 

“The NBA family recognizes the storied and prominent role that HBCUs have played in our society for decades.  We also recognize that within our commitments to increase Black representation across the league and grow the game, we can create educational, athletic and career opportunities through engagement with these institutions, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Tatum said.  “Through continued collaboration with partners like TMCF and UNCF, our teams and members of the HBCU community, we look forward to expanding support of students and alumni in meaningful ways.”

In addition to the game, there will greater action taken to impact HBCUs. 

Starting next year, the NBA and its teams will offer a new paid fellowship program for undergraduate and graduate students.  The program, which will be led by the NBA Foundation, will offer HBCU students the opportunity to gain real-life insights and professional experience around the business and operations of basketball.  The students will work in positions at the league office and NBA and WNBA teams, and be matched with a league or team employee mentor as part of their experience. 

The NBA, G League and Basketball Africa League will leverage their pre-Draft combines and showcase events for HBCU players, coaches and athletic trainers.  These engagements will increase exposure and opportunities to pursue professional basketball careers.

The league will also expand the NBA’s targeted referee development strategy to leverage existing programs and focus on identification, training and educational opportunities for HBCU students and alumni in the officiating pipeline. 

The NBA 2K League will host events on HBCU campuses to introduce students to careers in gaming and esports, creating pathways for students to pursue careers in the growing industry.

HBCU alumni and Black entrepreneurs will partner with the league as part of the NBA’s commitment to onboarding more minority-owned businesses as league licensees.

The NBA will air special alternate game telecasts this season featuring interactive enhancements on League Pass and will work with HBCU schools to provide special experiences around those select games.  

The NBA is committed to supporting the growth of the next generation of leaders from the Black community.  HBCUs – which produce 20 percent of the country’s Black college graduates but only account for three percent of all colleges in the United States – have historically been under-resourced, averaging one-eighth the size of endowments of historically white colleges and universities.

“We are pleased to continue our relationship with the NBA to build upon our commitment to our students, providing them with opportunities for learning, networking and collaborations,” Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO, Dr. Harry L. Williams. We both recognize there is a need for more minority professionals in the industry, and HBCUs have one of the strongest recruiting bases for talent.  I appreciate the NBA creating space for our students while identifying meaningful opportunities that bring value to both the NBA and TMCF.”

NBA takes deep dive with HBCUs, including a basketball classic
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