I’m here for all of the continued love and support that HBCUs seem to be getting as of late, and now comes the news that they’ll be on the receiving end of even more, courtesy of the NBA.
On Thursday, the league announced that it would be expanding upon its continued commitment to historically Black institutions with an assortment of new programs that are “designed to create greater opportunity for students and alumni, encourage economic advancement, and further celebrate their rich traditions,” according to a press release provided to The Root. As part of this partnership, the NBA will develop new events and programming that will specifically focus on “professional development, career advancement, and increased support and awareness for HBCU athletics and institutions.”
Here’s a taste test of what the league has in store:
- A New Fellowship Program for Career Development: Set to launch in 2022, the NBA and its franchises will offer undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to “gain real-life insights and professional experience around the business and operations of basketball” by working in positions throughout both the NBA and WNBA. They’ll also be matched with a league or team employee as a mentor to provide invaluable insight and enhance their experience.
- The NBA HBCU Classic: Continuing where they left off during NBA All-Star 2021, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will showcase the HBCU community during NBA All-Star 2022 in Cleveland. This will include a game between the men’s basketball teams at Howard University and Morgan State University, in addition to special performances and contributions of over $1 million through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, and academic institutions.
The league also has its sights set on additional programming:
- The NBA, G League, and Basketball Africa League will work to increase exposure and opportunities for the HBCU community in order to help elevate HBCU players, coaches, and athletic trainers, in addition to expanding programs for potential referees.
- Gaming and esports will also become a higher priority, with the NBA 2K League hosting events to create pathways for HBCU students to pursue careers in the growing gaming industry.
- HBCU alumni and noteworthy Black entrepreneurs will partner with the league in order to amplify its efforts in onboarding more Black-owned businesses as league licensees.
- The NBA will introduce alternative game telecasts this season that will feature “interactive enhancements” on League Pass. The league will also work with HBCUs in order to develop unique experiences around those specific games.
“The NBA family recognizes the storied and prominent role that HBCUs have played in our society for decades,” NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Tatum, said in a statement provided to The Root. “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. 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.”
These are the exact type of things you love to see from a professional sports organization, and hopefully other leagues take a hint and decide to follow suit.