US Vice President Kamala Harris was booed on the third day of the NCAA March Madness tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, as she watched her alma mater, Howard University, fall to college basketball powerhouse Kansas.
Having graduated from the Historically Black University (HBCU) with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics in 1986, Harris showed up to a suite at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday to watch the Jayhawks crush their 68-year-old Bisons. -96, along with her husband and her second gentleman, Doug Emhoff.
‘I mean, here we are in Des Moines. And they’re in a tough spot, they work hard, they’re very disciplined and it’s a pleasure to see them here at March Madness,’ Harris said of Howard’s men’s basketball team in the second half. ‘Many of us here love our school.’
‘And at Howard University, I ran for my first position as a freshman class representative and have always been a part of the Howard community. And I’m sure everyone who has a team understands what it means and the joy and commitment we have in the traditions and loyalty to your team.
When the Vice President was shown on the arena’s jumbotron, boos drowned out the round of applause she was given, according to The Associated Press. The demographics of the crowd may have influenced her reaction to seeing the former California senator on the arena’s video board.
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff look on during the second half of a first-round college basketball game between Howard, Harris’s alma mater, and Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Des, Moines, Iowa.
Harris talked about her time at Howard, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1986, with TBS’s Allie LaForce from inside the Wells Fargo Arena.
MIXED REACTION: Harris was booed and applauded when he showed up on the arena jumbotron
Most of the fans who attended Thursday’s game were likely from Kansas or Iowa, two states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, which could explain why Harris was booed when he appeared on the arena’s big screen. .
More than half of Iowans (53.1 percent) voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, compared to 44.9 percent for Joe Biden.
Fans hailing from Kansas, another red state, may also have been behind the chorus of boos. Although Trump carried the state with 56.18 percent of the vote in 2020, Biden’s 41.53 percent vote share represented the highest for a Democratic presidential candidate since 2008, among Biden’s best statewide gains in the elections.
On Thursday, Harris also stressed the importance of funding sports programs at HBCUs in shaping the lives of “our current future leaders.”
“These sports programs need to be well resourced because when you look at the coaches like the coaches of the two teams that are here, they’re investing in these students as a whole person, so yeah, it’s about helping them be their best and most . talented on the field. But also off the court,” Harris told TBS’s Allie LaForce.
“They are investing in these kids, they are investing in their education, they think about their life and all the things that they bring to their time at school. And I admire these coaches for really investing in our current future leaders.’
The vice president’s comments come a day after the commissioners of four major HBCU conferences: the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the Middle East Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) have agreed to work more closely in partnership with professional sports leagues, including the NBA and NFL, to increase the value of HBCUs and send more athletes to the pros.
“We’re doing it collaboratively knowing that we have strength as a collective,” said SIAC Commissioner Anthony Holloman. “We know when we play in our conferences, we compete, it’s a game, but the rest of the days we cheer for each other.”
With less government funding and fewer resources than Power Five schools, black schools historically have a harder time recruiting top athletes. Name, image and likeness (NIL) offers, with little uniformity in how they are applied across states, schools and regions, have widened that gap.
Harris also stressed the importance of funding HBCU sports programs such as Howard’s
Another HBCU team that has already played in the March Madness tournament this year is the Texas Southern Tigers, who lost to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights on Wednesday.
Jacqie McWilliams, who is in her 10th year as commissioner of the CIAA, a league made up of 12 Division II HBCUs, has seen NIL give way to schools to help athletes turn creativity into money.
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC), an HBCU league in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, partnered with marketing company NIL Athlyt and media company Urban Edge network to create NIL agreements for athletes.
“That’s helping us improve a lot of things, our conference operations,” said GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Barnes, “and what we can do for our student-athletes.”
Now they are finding those opportunities in the midst of an unprecedented care environment for HBCUs. HBCU Texas Southern and Howard men’s basketball athletes competed on the NCAA national stage this week despite both schools losing, respectively, to Fairleigh Dickinson and Kansas.
Norfolk State’s women’s basketball team defeated Howard in the MEAC conference tournament to advance to face No. 1 overall South Carolina on Friday.
Deion Sanders, now the Colorado football coach, helped HBCU rise in popularity while at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Deion Sanders, now the Colorado football coach, helped fuel HBCU’s resurgence in popularity when he was at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil, a Texas Southern professor who focuses on HBCU athletics, said Sanders’ star power, coupled with the racial reckoning following the 2020 killing of George Floyd, allowed more to be invested resources in black schools.
“Some people have his popularity, but (Sanders’) openness to share his thoughts, a sound bite, which everyone was compelled to watch. “What does this mean?” Cavil told the Associated Press. “And really skyrocketed HBCU programs on this atmospheric surge.”
The SWAC conference, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), leads all HBCU conferences in total NIL earnings, ranking 21st in athlete compensation, according to data compiled by marketing and technology company NIL Opendorse.
Before attending Howard’s matchup against Kansas, Harris spoke at Grand View University, a Lutheran university, where she held a panel discussion on reproductive rights.
The vice president then spoke to Howard’s players in their locker room after the loss against Kansas, giving them an inspiring talk to recognize their efforts, talents and discipline.
“You put everything you had into the game, and you know that’s what it’s about, right,” Harris said. ‘Until the last minute, you guys did that. You didn’t stop until the last second, you didn’t stop. And that is very inspiring.
‘So you keep playing with your chin up and your shoulders back because you showed the world who the bison are. I mean literally what you’ve done is in historical proportion. I’ve been to Howard in the past, where we were happy there was a game, let alone coming to this place.
“And I see Bison literally all over the world, and we’ve been talking about you, this team. (…) You make us feel so proud. So I know you may not feel good right now, but I know who you are. you are excellence. You are hard work. You are powerful and you are winners. So please know that.
Harris finished off his speech by inviting the Bisons to tour the White House whenever they feel like playing school hooky. The players laughed at the vice president’s joke soon after.