NBA Star Chris Paul says now is the perfect time to highlight HBCU sports programs, while Black folks are having a racial awakening.
Paul, along with Roadside Entertainment, is producing a docuseries about basketball programs at historically Black colleges and universities. It reportedly will air on an undetermined outlet over the course of the 2020-2021 college basketball season.
The project will show the difficulties that HBCUs face compared to larger schools and sports programs when trying to recruit top high school players. It hasn’t been announced yet which HBCUs the docuseries will focus on.
Paul, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, attended Wake Forest University before heading to the NBA in 2005. He told Deadline that he never considered going to the HBCU in his town.
“There was an HBCU right in my backyard,” said Paul, referring to Winston-Salem State University. “For some reason, I just didn’t really think of it. Today, kids’ mindsets have changed. We hope that this show will keep that conversation going.”
Paul teamed with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse earlier this year to bring her course called entertainment, media and sports to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an HBCU in Greensboro, North Carolina. The course will be brought to other HBCUs in 2021.
“HBCUs historically have been at a competitive disadvantage with their basketball programs facing many challenges with funding, recruitment, misperceptions, and exposure,” said Paul.
“With the current racial awakening in our country prompting young athletes to look at where they play, it’s now more important than ever to shine a light on HBCUs and showcase their value in sports and society,” he added.
A spotlight was put on HBCU sports programs in August of last year after the NCAA changed its guidelines for agents who want to represent NCAA players looking to enter the NBA draft.
The new guidelines said that agents needed a college degree to represent players, which people called the “Rich Paul Rule.”
Rich Paul, an NBA agent whose clients include LeBron James, didn’t go to college, and many believed the NCAA didn’t want more people like him to deal with college players.
Others like Fox Sports 1 commentator Chris Broussard called the new rule racist and said it’s one of the reasons top Black high school players should go to an HBCU. The NCAA changed its decision about agents needing college degrees after the backlash.
“I’m calling on all of our great Black football and basketball players, instead of going to these big universities that chew you up, spit you out, and don’t care about you, go to a HBCU, a Howard, Morehouse, Hampton, Xavier of New Orleans and many other schools,” said Broussard on social media last year.