HBCU DIGEST: Why the NBA believes and invests in HBCUs

By: Greg Taylor

The NBA began its 75th anniversary season last week, and the NBA Family couldn’t be more excited about the journey ahead for a global community of fans putting their energy behind 30 teams’ search for a title. 

We’ve been thinking a lot about how any business can get to 75 years of growth, progress, and success and still be accessible to consumers of all races, ages, backgrounds, and values. Being community-minded and delivering on the promise of a product seems to be the core values behind such success. 

These ideas are the force behind our continuing partnership with historically Black colleges and universities, and why we’re building on that partnership. I could not be more honored to be a part of an organization that aligns so well in mission and execution, with important institutions that have given and continue to give so much to our nation and world. 

One reason NBA players, coaches, and executives have earned so much affinity from fans is because they have worked hard and reaped the reward of being able to compete and perform on the biggest of stages every night over the course of a season. Dedication, positive thinking, and the mindset to put a team over self are the keys to their success. 

This is what HBCUs are all about in their social and educational objectives. The NBA wants to fortify that work by bringing new resources to help develop future professionals across a range of industries, and by supporting the marketing efforts behind these amazing colleges and universities. 

Next year, the NBA Foundation will be launching a paid fellowship program for HBCU undergraduate and graduate students to have intensive exposure to the breadth of opportunities across the league. We will be inviting the best talent from HBCUs across the country to work in the NBA corporate office, and with franchises throughout the NBA and WNBA to prepare for executive careers in the sports industry. 

Applications will launch in January 2022 and interested applicants can sign up to learn more. (https://nbafoundation.nba.com/hbcu-fellowship/).

After experiencing great success with NBA All-Star 2021 and its HBCU programming in Atlanta our focus will be extended to the 2022 edition in Cleveland, where we will proudly host a much-anticipated matchup between Howard University and Morgan State University in a nationally televised game. This market exposure of two iconic historically Black institutions, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and their student-athletes will give global audiences an unprecedented glimpse of the HBCU brand and its values. 

These initiatives will be highlights of our HBCU partnership, but they also include our effort to promote men’s and women’s talent starring at HBCUs as well as coaches and athletic trainers through pre-Draft combines and showcase events. We’re also continuing our work to develop HBCU student and alumni talent for success in our NBA 2K League, licensing programs for entrepreneurs, and training programs for referees and game officials. 

Lastly, we will continue our support of students entering college and earning degrees with scholarship and programmatic support totaling more than $1 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund. Nothing changes the trajectory of a life, a family, or a community like education, and we’re proud to extend our relationship with these organizations.

We’re making all of these investments because we believe in the value HBCUs bring to young people. HBCU students and graduates are part of the NBA community, from executives in our corporate offices to the first-year students coming to campus this fall who carry their fandom with them into young adulthood. 

The NBA takes great pride in sharing so many unique traits of excellence with the HBCU community, and we’re honored about what the future holds for our collaboration. 

Greg Taylor is the Executive Director of the NBA Foundation.