With help from the Cincinnati Reds, Wilberforce University announced its historic baseball program will return after a nearly 80-year absence.
The return of the program will begin in the fall of 2022 allowing Wilberforce athletes to prepare for the spring 2023 season.
The Reds Community Fund will be partnering with the university to support the launch of the program, which will eventually compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“To see this day come to fruition is just amazing,” Wilberforce Athletic Director Derek Williams said.
The Reds helped with the financials of building a team as well as provided resources.
“I hope that we are a catalyst for other HBCUs,” Wilberforce coach Roosevelt Barnes told Spectrum News. “How fitting right that this is the first time that a major league team has ever partnered with an HBCU. And Wilberforce is the first privately owned and operated HBCU here in Ohio founded in 1856. To have two firsts come together and get this done, I’m pretty sure there will be more HBCUs that’ll follow.”
Wilberforce plays its first game of the season in Georgia on Feb. 10.
Elfred Anthony Pinkard, president of Wilberforce, said the move is part of the school’s plan to make the school attractive to future students.
“We believe in the student-athlete,” he said. “And to the extent that we can offer an additional sport for our students, that’s always a good thing with regard to recruiting students to come to the university.”