by Bradford Brooks
The first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament did not disappoint. Among the myriad of upsets that included the UMBC Retrievers defeating the number one overall seed Virginia Cavaliers, there were multiple games that were decided by 5 points or less and even some exhilarating buzzer beaters.
However, what March Madness seemed to miss was a strong black college presence. Two historically Black colleges played each other in the First Four this past Wednesday when Texas Southern University and North Carolina Central University squared off in Dayton,Ohio.
The matchup is historic, as teams from Black colleges typically get matched up against predominately white institutions. The South Western Athletic Conference champion, Texas Southern Tigers (15-19), defeated the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, North Carolina Central Eagles (19-15),64-46 in a game where the Tigers dominated for most of the second half. TSU then lost to number 1 overall seed Xavier 103 -82 the following friday, thus eliminating both HBCUs from arguably the NCAA’s biggest money making event.
Texas Southern and North Carolina Central were both given 16 seeds, the same seeding that was awarded to the Nation’s adopted Cinderella team, UMBC.
So the objective for HBCU basketball programs is now pretty simple: They need to become the next UMBC.
It is safe to say that UMBC was an institution relatively unknown by the majority of Americans. However, after their historic victory they became a household name and the number one story in sports for about three to four days.
And that is exactly the type of publicity HBCUs need. Through the retrievers one victory they have put their university in front of millions of eyes that would have never once thought of the school before. They have opened the door for major revenue increases to the school through potential enrollment numbers, potential apparel sells, and potential athletic prowess that may attend the school now since they have proven to win on one of the biggest stages.
HBCUs need this. This influx of positive publicity could really go a long way into changing the negative perception many have of HBCUs.
For many who do not know, to many prospective students Athletics can influence their decision to attend an University almost as much as Academics. So with millions of eyes on your basketball team their could potentially be millions of eyes on your applications as well.
UMBC could exemplify how to capitalize on athletic success as a smaller school and it’s time for HBCU’s to do the same. HBCUs may be “one shining moment” away from changing their schools forever.