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An ACC-HBCU basketball event is worth exploring

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We look at some of the pros and cons of having an event revolving around ACC schools playing HBCUs

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Clemson vs Florida State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Without team sports here in the U.S., it leaves are a lot of time for discussions around opportunities for teams to put their words into action when it comes to diversity. One interesting idea that would involve the Syracuse Orange was reported on Monday by Jeff Goodman.

According to HBCU Gameday, one ACC program has agreed to travel to a historically Black college next season, so maybe it’s that school making the MLK Day suggestion. Obviously games on the ESPN networks would provide exposure to the HBCU schools, but would sending those schools on the road for a likely loss be worth it to them? Despite the guaranteed money that the HBCU schools would receive, it doesn’t seem worth it for them to interrupt their conference season for a road tilt that could be played earlier in the year, but what if they were hosting the ACC schools?

That’s an idea that Norfolk State Spartans Head Coach Robert Jones can support as he suggested to HBCU Gameday that a visit from the Virginia Cavaliers could be a major boost to his program.

“If they came to Echols (NSU’s home gym), it would be a sellout,” Jones said. “Our tickets would be $20-25, which they normally are anyway. You look at five, six thousand people in there. It would be way more than what they would give us for a guarantee, and then the experience, maybe you get some sponsors involved for that game.”

NCAA Basketball: MEAC Tournament-Norfolk State vs North Carolina Central Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

That sentiment was echoed by Howard University Head Coach Kenny Blakeney who played on two Duke Blue Devils title teams during his college career. Blakeney thinks the ACC players could benefit from experiencing the HBCU campuses and I agree with this sentiment. We talk about the unique environments that college basketball offers, so why not give the ACC players the experience and showcase the HBCU schools using the conference’s partnership with ESPN?

Imagine starting the day with Packer and Durham live on one HBCU campus with a special ESPN GameDay broadcast from another campus in the afternoon between a set of games. As a number of people pointed out online there are some very natural matchup games if this moved forward like Virginia and Norfolk State or the Florida State Seminoles vs Florida A&M. Providing the schools and the fans a showcase like this would be worth trying the idea and expanding it to include women’s basketball as well.

When the ACC announced they were starting their own network it was mostly about increasing revenue. But now they have the opportunity to be innovative and deliver a unique event. We talk about taking action, and this would be a good place for the ACC to put something behind their words.