The athletic departments of both HBCUs will receive six-figure gifts from the NBA before the schools face off in the inaugural NBA HBCU Classic.
Ahead of the first-ever NBA HBCU Classic presented by AT&T between Howard University and Morgan State University on Feb. 19, the NBA and AT&T are donating $100,000 to each school’s athletic department.
“The NBA and its commitment to HBCUs was sparked at All-Star last year, with over $3 million being donated across the board. We felt like we needed to continue that support, and it has become a much larger initiative for the NBA,” said Carlton Myers, NBA Senior Vice President and Head of Live Production and Entertainment, in an interview with Boardroom.
The story doesn’t end with the league’s major contribution, however. Mountain Dew, the league’s official soft drink, will award $100,000 in All-Star scholarships and two students will receive $50,000 scholarships to advance their education. Under Armour, the official apparel outfitter for both schools, will be providing custom shooting shirts and sneakers. Merchandise will be made by Pro Standard and Support Black Colleges, and proceeds on product sales will be donated to Howard, Morgan State, and the HBCU community.
“The historic partnership that has given rise to the NBA HBCU Classic is helping to elevate HBCUs at a critical time for our country,” said Howard University athletic director Kery Davis in a statement. “HBCUs and the NBA have a shared legacy of using their platforms to serve their communities and amplify the voices of marginalized people. We appreciate the opportunity to shine a spotlight on HBCUs this year and for our students to share a stage with some of the world’s most talented athletes during NBA All-Star Weekend.”
Added Morgan State Interim athletic director Erlease Wagner:
“The NBA HBCU Classic during the celebration of Black History Month highlights the important mission of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the critical role they play in our country. Morgan Athletics thank the NBA, AT&T, ESPN, Turner Sports, and other participating partners for providing this one-of-a-kind opportunity for our outstanding Morgan student-athletes.”
The NBA and the NBA Foundation also launched an HBCU exclusive fellowship program that will debut this year. The fellowship will run 10 weeks and has a projected 50-plus undergraduate students selected. Students will be split across the NBA and WNBA league offices as well as both teams. The deadline to apply for the internship is Feb. 20.
The game will be covered and amplified by media talent from HBCU institutions, including Stephanie Ready (Coppin State University), Stephen A. Smith (Winston-Salem State University), and Brian Custer (Hampton University), as well as NBA champion Rick Mahorn (Hampton University).
Prior to the start of the game, award-winning actress, musical artist, and TV personality Keke Palmer will perform the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” alongside the Howard University Showtime Marching Band. NBA All-Stars, members of the 75th Anniversary team, and celebrities will be in attendance to experience the HBCU celebration and support the student-athletes and institutions.
The Howard Bison and Morgan State Bears faced off earlier this season, with the former scoring a 91-82 victory Jan. 22. As part of their participation in the NBA All-Star festivities, both teams and additional representatives from the two schools will meet with NBA league and team executives, as well as current and former NBA and WNBA players, to engage in programming focused on professional development and networking.