Howard University is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance
Colorado, could be Deion Sanders. I hope you enjoy Boulder, which you say you do “no crime” and I hope the university will enjoy him until he moves to a job with more money and prestige and says God told him to. I also hope Jackson State continues to thrive without the man with the golden whistle who refuses to wear earrings at meetings. Another HBCU — Howard University — is seeing a surge in athletic success. They continued away from the spotlight, but recently success was abundant.
Howard is a university with a history of producing stars. Of course, I’m a biased alumni who brings high school pride to the Bison in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the second time in the program’s history, but the facts are the facts. Howard produces Oscar winners, MacArthur Genius Grant winners, civil rights leaders like Kwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael, who stood by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rather, he challenged him on certain topicsthe current vice pa resident of the United States of America, and many other persons of great authority.
Sports stars are few and far between at Howard
Naturally, sports are expensive and as an HBCU, Howard does not have the budget of a Power 5 university. However, even though most of the star black athletes played Howard, they are he struggled athletically. Jackson State has four Pro Football Hall of Famers, but the only player from Howard to make a Pro Bowl is Antoine Bethea, according to Sports Reference. (He was made exactly three.) Howard men’s basketball coach Kenny Blakeney (pictured) He’s from Washington and said he couldn’t name it Five players in the program’s history at their introductory press conference in 2019.
He is turning his athletic program around
In recent years, Howard has slowly but surely turned around in athletics around the program. In 2015, a major move was made when Ty Grace was hired as the head coach of the women’s basketball team. Prior to the start of the season, Kery Davis was hired as athletic director.
Last season, Grace’s team won the MEAC tournament — Howard’s first conference title in two decades — and won the First-Four game. They made it to the MEAC championship again this season and nearly pulled off a spectacular comeback against Norfolk State.
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Howard is the only HBCU with a swimming and diving team. In February, the men won the Northeast Conference championship for the first time in three decades, breaking 16 records the process. The women finished fourth, but still broke 15 records. For the men, Miles Simon won the Most Outstanding Swimmer award, and for the women, Jordan Walker won the Most Outstanding Diver award.
Last spring, the softball team took home a MEAC championship. Stephen Curry helped the golf team return to Division I in 2021 and the program won a conference championship in his first season. The football team also won a conference championship in the fall. It was their first conference title since 1993.
And on Thursday at 2pm EST, Blakeney’s Bison men take on Kansas in the first round of the tournament. Howard’s last appearance was in 1992 when Blakeney won a national championship as a freshman at Duke. In his fourth season as head coach, Howard went 11-3 in conference play and 21-11 on the season. The Bison defeated MEAC champion Norfolk State in a 65-64 thriller on Saturday.
Their 3-point shooting failed for most of the day, but Marcus Dockery sent a rainbow into the net while being double-covered to keep hopes alive with 13 seconds left in the game. A Norfolk State turnover and two clutch free throws by Jelani Willams — a transfer from Penn — later, and Howard punched his ticket for the first time since tickets went largely digital. Even before the tournament, the program got some love from the NBA when the Milwaukee Bucks were in town to play Washington Wizards.
A school that is almost always more likely to produce a Stan Verrett sample Bethea reached one of the most prolific events in college sports. It didn’t take a Pro Football Hall of Famer filming a documentary for Amazon Prime while coaching. Just some new blood committed to taking daily steps to turn the program around.
So that’s all The classic literature, influential advocates, gifted artists and world leaders that Howard produces are now known for something else.
Howard proved that it can also be a sports school.