Putting HBCU Schools in the National Spotlight

Given the starkly disparate treatment and revenue sharing afforded to HBCUs by the NCAA Basketball Tournament, taken into consideration in the shadow of the Pygmalion Effect working against them, there is ample justification to create greater opportunities for HBCUs in this space. A HBCU Men’s and Women’s Basketball National Championship tournament, strategically positioned in March/April to cooperatively feed and feed off NCAA fervor, would provide a vehicle for generating the kind of media exposure that can flip the script on school fortunes.

Generate Exposure & Funding

The prospects for what the bonus of exposure and funding from an HBCU National Championship Festival weekend could do for HBCUs is truly exciting. Brand awareness campaigns, access to robust granting sources, sponsorships, renewal and invigoration of alumni donation and involvement, solicitation of faculty to appear in prestigious journals, on-campus corporate recruiting of students, research development, ancillary centers, the “bump” of millions in free advertising—all game-changers that tend to blossom out of the kind of recognition universities receive from their sports teams ending their season on a win.

Vast Intangible Benefits

The vast intangible profits must also be underscored. Athletics engenders healthy habits of commitment, confidence, focus, and fitness. What student athletes learn about teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and resilience serves them far into their futures. Students shouting from sidelines get a healthy dose of these valuable lessons as well. Camaraderie, networking, a sense of meaning and being part of something bigger than oneself, and so much more all pay tremendous personal and professional dividends.

Denying opportunities for universities and their constituents to revel in all of the above is unacceptable. Yet, because of the current system’s limitations, an HBCU basketball program hasn’t ended its season on a post-season win in almost half a century!

The Time Has Come!

The time has come. The opening is before us to take a major step forward toward correcting the stigmas and misperceptions, the visibility imbalances, the under-rankings, and the broadly resulting disparities in funding and facilities of HBCUs.

In closing, HBCUs and the individuals they have nurtured and produced have had a significant impact in many different walks of life and the athletic arena is no exception. Furthermore, the HBCU sports culture is a unique sporting space that is distinct, however, attached to African American cultural traditions, which not only includes a sports contest, but it most often also includes theatrical step-shows, mesmerizing dance teams, and dazzling marching bands. This sporting HBCU diaspora must be cultivated. The formation of this event and its innovative framing with significant partners has an opportunity to nurture and grow this community. It is time for the Victory Freedom Legacy Festival. “The Time Has Come!”