(CBS Local)- A new college basketball showcase highlighting the best athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) is coming to CBS Television Network in 2022. CBS Sports announced Thursday it is partnering with HBCU All-Stars LLC to air the event which will be played on the Sunday of Final Four weekend in the host city, airing live on CBS.
The game is part of a larger commitment made by ViacomCBS to HBCUs with the company announcing the establishment of an annual scholarship fund and internship opportunities to engage and recruit the talented students of HBCUs.
“At CBS Sports, we share ViacomCBS’ strong belief that diversity, equity and inclusion are integral to creating meaningful change and opportunities for our employees,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Coach Williams, HBCU All-Stars LLC and HBCUs across the country to support the next generation of leaders and we are excited to provide a national platform for this All-Star game to celebrate and honor the rich history, tradition and contributions of HBCUs to the sport of college basketball.”
Outside of the game, there will be the HBCU All-Star Game Experience, a week-long festival starting on Tuesday and concluding the Tuesday after the National Championship Game. The festival will celebrate Black culture, Black excellence, and Black history.
“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase HBCU student-athletes and coaches on a national stage during college basketball’s biggest weekend,” said Travis L. Williams, founder of HBCU All-Stars LLC, who graduated from Georgia State and coached at Tennessee State and Fort Valley State. “This historic endeavor with CBS Sports will raise national awareness of our prestigious HBCUs and our long legacy of academic and athletic achievement. This is far more than a game; it will include the entire HBCU cultural experience. As a Black-owned sports marketing company, it is a true blessing to be in a position to amplify the Black history and excellence that has too often been overlooked. New Orleans is the perfect location for this inaugural event and we look forward to a bright future in the years to come.”
The partnership will kick off this year with the network televising three one-hour programs focused on HBCUs and their contributions to college basketball on Sunday, April 4 starting at 3:00 p.m. ET. The first two hours will feature documentaries on John McLendon, the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach and contributor, and one on Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Winston-Salem State, the first HBCU to win an NCAA title in any sport. The final hour will feature an original program from CBS Sports showcasing HBCU experience and culture.
The annual scholarship fund and internship opportunities set up as a partnership between ViacomCBS and HBCUs will both begin this year.
“Part of our commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is to ensure we use our platforms to highlight diverse communities, create equitable access to opportunities and expand pathways for underrepresented talent with intentionality and focus,” said Marva Smalls, EVP, Global Head of Inclusion at ViacomCBS. “We’re proud to strengthen these efforts by establishing this commitment to our nation’s HBCUs and supporting their incredible students pursuing careers.”
ViacomCBS has donated $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund to establish the scholarship fund which is available to current students attending HBCUs who have interest in media, entertainment and sports in addition to showing strong leadership ability. All majors are eligible to apply but applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and qualify to receive federal Pell Grant funding.