The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Athletics Department plans to host the first Virgin Islands HBCU Basketball Classic tournament this November at the UVI Sports & Fitness Center on the Orville E. Kean Campus St. Thomas. The Virgin Islands Historically Black Colleges and Universities (VI HBCU) Basketball Classic is a men’s and women’s basketball tournament that will feature five National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) programs and 12 competitions — six men’s games and six women’s games — over the course of three days from Nov. 3- 5.
The tournament will serve as the main event for the Buccaneers’ 2021 Homecoming, tipping off the return to intercollegiate athletics after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of winter and spring sports last season.
“UVI Athletics is thrilled to offer the first Virgin Islands HBCU Classic, which we expect will create a lasting tradition of competition, community engagement, cultural and institutional pride as well as education to further foster the support of HBCUs,” said Jerel Drew, Ph.D., director of athletics at UVI. “We anticipate an exciting Homecoming Week filled with festivities for all ages.”
Tournament participants will include teams from Arkansas Baptist College, Hutson-Tillotson University, Warner University, Wilberforce University and UVI. All the schools, except for Warner University, are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“We are excited for our basketball programs to be selected for this event,” said Monique Carroll, Ph.D., director of athletics at Hutson-Tillotson. “This will be a phenomenal experience for our student athletes and a great way to return to action against a field of teams who will be excited to compete as well.”
The women’s basketball program from Arkansas Baptist College will be among the groups participating. “We are thankful for the invitation and the experience of a lifetime for our student athletes. We look forward to competing and participating in all the great events planned for the week,” said Marlow Rockwell, women’s basketball head coach at Arkansas Baptist.
“Wilberforce is excited to participate in the first UVI HBCU Classic this upcoming season. We look forward to taking the court,” said Derek Williams, director of athletics at Wilberforce.
Each day of competition will feature a theme, starting with Buc’s Night on Wednesday, the opening day. Bucs’ Night will honor former and current Buccaneers with a celebration of institutional pride and Buccaneer spirit, culminating in a Hall of Fame Ceremony. Thursday has been branded as U.S.V.I. High School Night, offering free admission to all local high school students and the opportunity to apply at the participating institutions. Friday is HBCU Greek Night, where UVI will recognize all its former and current Greek students. All 12 competitions will be live streamed on various platforms. The tournament will also be the Buccaneers’ home opener.
“I would like to thank Commissioner Joseph Boschulte and the Department of Tourism for their sponsorship of the tournament,” said Drew. “We look forward to welcoming the visiting teams and their fans.”
The announcement of the tournament comes just over a month after UVI unveiled a new athletics logo and publicized its apparel deal with Adidas as part of a rebranding initiative for the Buccaneers. In the coming days, UVI Athletics will be launching a new athletics website and mobile app for its athletics programs.
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