WASHINGTON, June 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Howard University Athletics announced the men's basketball team is set to host the University of Notre Dame on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day), scheduled for Monday, January 18, 2021 inside Burr Gymnasium.
Tipoff and game broadcast details will be announced at a later date.
The matchup features Notre Dame visiting an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) for the first time in program history.
"We are excited to host the University of Notre Dame men's basketball team in what will certainly be a spirited competition that will energize the fans on both sides of the court," said Howard UniversityPresident Wayne A. I. Frederick. "As we witness the nation's outcry for social justice and racial equality, this event will be a fitting demonstration of unity, collegiality and sportsmanship."
MLK Day is an American federal holiday, acknowledging the birthday of the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state laws. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law and it was first observed three years later (January 20, 1986).
Since 2019, Howard honors Dr. King's Celebration of Excellence by hosting nonconference contests with iconic, historical institutions. In the past two seasons, HU has greeted Ivy League perennials Harvard (2019) and Yale (2020) to The Burr.
"We've made this a tradition, hosting these outstanding institutions on MLK Day," said Howard Director of Athletics Kery Davis. "We thank Commissioner Dr. Dennis E. Thomas for giving us an opportunity to host Notre Dame during Mid-Eastern Athletic conference play. This is a great opportunity for us, and we're excited to welcome Coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish to The Mecca."
Howard men's basketball head coach Kenneth Blakeney and Notre Dame Glenn and Stacey Murphy Head Men's Basketball Coach Mike Brey both have ties to the D.C. area, having played at DeMatha High School under legendary and Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wooten, the winningest high school coach in history.
"We are honored to welcome Notre Dame to Howard University for our annual MLK Day game," Blakeney stated. "Coach Mike Brey and I are brothers! We were both mentored by one of the best educators, Coach Morgan Wooten at DeMatha Catholic High School, who considered himself a teacher first. We understand that this game is bigger than both universities and I feel that we have a social and civic responsibility to engage our programs in celebrating Dr. King's birthday."
Before Monday's showdown at The Hilltop, Howard and Notre Dame have formed an alliance with When We All Vote (WWAV), a non-profit organization started by former First Lady Michelle Obama and others. The purpose is to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.
"We have been looking for the best way to fulfill our game contract with Howard and this seemed like the perfect fit," Brey said. "As our program searched for the best way to remain active participants in the push for social change, a visit to one of our nation's top HBCUs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day will provide an incredible educational experience for our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and university."
Before every practice, Coach Blakeney shares a quote with his team and one quote from Dr. King that is relevant during these challenging times, "Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress."
"Give us the ballot," Blakeney added. "And we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights. Being a coach means you're a teacher and I've been given an incredible opportunity to teach, serve, lead and give back while helping student-athletes achieve their full potential."
HU is set to host its first Power Five opponent inside Burr Gymnasium since welcoming then Pac-10 foe Oregon State (Nov. 27, 2010).
Coach Blakeney returns for his second season with a plethora of talent, led by 2019-20 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Wayne Bristol, Jr. (Upper Marlboro, Md.).
ABOUT HOWARD UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
The Howard University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors 21 NCAA Division I men and women varsity sports. The programs represent five conferences: The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA), Sun Belt Conference, Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Atlantic Sun (ASUN) Conference.
ABOUT MLK DAY
President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
ABOUT WHEN WE ALL VOTE
When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. Launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, When We All Vote is changing the culture around voting using a data-driven and multifaceted approach to increase participation in elections.
For more information, visit the Bison Athletics website at www.HUBison.com.