Pac-12 in step with HBCUs for basketball

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. & SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 Conference continues to make inroads into the HBCU circuit. With UCLA scheduled to play a couple of historically black colleges and universities in 2022 (Alabama State) and 2023 (North Carolina Central University), the Pac-12 has picked up that momentum, scheduling men’s and women’s basketball games as well as presenting educational opportunities with members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

The Pac-12 and Southwestern Athletic Conferences announced the formation of a basketball educational and scheduling partnership that will feature a first-of-its-kind annual home-and-home series between member institutions.

The men’s and women’s basketball partnership is aimed at creating both a forum for competition, as well as promotion and education around issues of anti-racism and social justice. The partnership is set to begin in Nov. 2022, with six matchups for the initial men’s cycle determined; women’s matchups will be announced in the coming weeks.

“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is extremely excited to partner with the Pac-12 for what we truly feel will be a remarkable experience for our student-athletes and 12 member institutions,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland. “This is a game-changer and the opportunity for a collaboration of this significant magnitude has never occurred in the history of HBCU Athletics.” 

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – MARCH 18: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates a play against the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

McClelland continued, “We applaud the Pac-12 and its leadership for having the foresight and vision to put this historical initiative together. The Pac-12 has shown a steadfast commitment towards playing an active role in diversity initiatives and impactful collaborations with HBCUs and this partnership is a win-win for both conferences as our respective missions are closely aligned.”

The first slate of games scheduled between the two conferences includes Alabama State visiting USC, Oregon hosting Southern and Colorado traveling to Grambling State University in 2022. Some of the games played in 2023 will see Prairie View A&M visiting Washington State and Texas Southern traveling to Arizona State.

“As part of our Pac-12 Impact initiative to find ways to support and promote diversity and inclusion through sport, we could not be more proud to join with the SWAC on this first-of-its-kind initiative,” said Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner and Men’s Basketball Sport Administrator Jamie Zaninovich.”

“All credit goes to the basketball head coaches and athletics directors from both conferences for wanting to go above and beyond by creating a truly inclusive and meaningful partnership that will help raise awareness of the important role of HBCUs in higher education,” Zaninovich added.

Student-athletes will participate in social justice and anti-racism educational components as part of the games. Programming for the student-athletes will be a collaboration between campus leadership from the two participating men’s basketball programs.

In addition, campus athletics departments will facilitate private meetings between athletics directors and their respective senior staff as part of the partnership.

“It’s a great opportunity for Colorado, and all Pac-12 student-athletes for that matter, to learn more about the proud history of HBCU schools and what they’ve meant to those that have benefited from the educational experience at these institutions,” said Colorado head coach Tad Boyle.

Florida A&M head coach Robert McCullum is just as enthusiastic about the partnership between the SWAC and the Pac-12.

“I could not be more excited about the challenges and unique opportunities presented by the creation of the partnership between the SWAC and the Pac-12,” said McCullum. “We will travel to our sixth Pac-12 opponent during my tenure at FAMU this season, and having spent three years on Oregon’s staff, I know all too well the challenges each team presents; obviously the big difference will come in being able to host Pac-12 teams on our campuses – it doesn’t get any better than that!”

As part of the scheduling alliance, programs from each conference will participate in two-year home-and-home series over the course of four years from the 2022-23 to 2025-26 seasons. Six programs from each conference will participate in the 2022-23/2023-24 series, followed by the remaining six programs in 2024-25/2025-26.