CBS Sports and HBCU All-Stars LLC, a Black-owned sports marketing and event company founded by Travis L. Williams, have partnered to create the HBCU All-Star Game, a college basketball showcase highlighting the best HBCU players in the country. The event, which starts in 2022 in New Orleans, will be played on the Sunday of Final Four weekend in the host city, airing live on the CBS Television Network.
In addition to the game, ViacomCBS announced the establishment of a multi-year commitment to HBCUs with the creation of an annual scholarship fund and internship opportunities in an effort to foster, highlight, identify and recruit the many talented and accomplished students from all 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. “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.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase HBCU student-athletes and coaches on a national stage during college basketball’s biggest weekend,” said Williams, 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.”
Surrounding the game, HBCU All-Stars LLC will stage the HBCU All-Star Game Experience, a week-long festival that will kick off the week on Tuesday and conclude the following Tuesday after the National Championship game. The event will celebrate Black culture, Black excellence and Black history through the HBCU Experience and will be highlighted by a college admissions fair.
As part of CBS Sports’ ongoing commitment to highlight Black stories on its platforms and to kick off this partnership with HBCU All-Stars LLC this year, the Network will televise three one-hour programs focused on HBCUs and their contributions to college basketball on Sunday, April 4 beginning at 3:00 PM, ET. There will be a documentary on the legendary John McLendon – the first person to be enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach and a contributor – as well as one on Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Winston-Salem State, the first HBCU to win an NCAA championship in any sport. The final hour will be an original program from CBS Sports that showcases the HBCU experience and culture.
Furthering its commitment to HBCUs, ViacomCBS has established an annual scholarship fund and internship opportunities dedicated to HBCU students, with both programs beginning 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 in media, entertainment and sports.”
In the first year of this initiative, 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 demonstrated an interest in media, entertainment and sports as well as shown strong leadership ability. All majors are eligible to apply but applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and must qualify to receive federal Pell Grant funding. Awardees of this scholarship will have the ability to apply for renewed funding to help remove financial barriers to their matriculation.
Through its internship program, ViacomCBS aims to provide firsthand experience and mentorship to HBCU students to create a pipeline for those interested in a career in the sports and entertainment industry. Each year during the agreement, a minimum of five internships will be dedicated to current HBCU students across the corporation, with at least one specifically within CBS Sports.