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The BIG EAST Conference Honors the Black Fives

NEW YORK – In keeping with the BIG EAST Conference’s commitment to BE the Change by leading, educating and inspiring others, the Conference is proud to celebrate Black History month by renewing its partnership with the Black Fives Foundation, a nonprofit public charity whose mission is to research, preserve, showcase, teach and honor the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball. Beginning on February 7, the BIG EAST Conference will host 22 basketball games honoring the Black athletes, coaches and communities who played a critical part in America’s basketball history.
From 1904, when basketball was first introduced to African Americans on a wide scale organized basis, through the racial integration of all-White professional leagues in the 1950’s, Black Fives squads flourished on the amateur, semi-professional and professional levels in cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Chicago, as well as in other locations with substantial African American populations. 
“The BIG EAST Conference is honored to continue our partnership with the Black Fives Foundation this season,” said BIG EAST Commissioner, Val Ackerman. “Our role as educators, our basketball-centric identity and our commitment to diversity and inclusion combine to provide the perfect platform for us to assist the Foundation in furthering their mission. We look forward to amplifying the stories of the pioneers who made history in our school communities and celebrating their enduring impact on the game of basketball.”
The men and women of the Black Fives Era opened doors for generations of African American players and coaches while staging culturally rich, socially meaningful events that strengthened and inspired Black communities in the face of Jim Crow oppression.
For 22 games, the BIG EAST Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams will be wearing shooting shirts with the Black Fives mantra “Make History Now”. Coaches will wear “Make History Now” pins and fans will be educated through videos and other game time promotions on the relevance and importance of the Black Fives.
“We are excited about partnering with the BIG EAST Conference again this season,” said Claude Johnson, Executive Director of the Black Fives Foundation. “This partnership provides an ideal opportunity for us to tell the stories of the players and teams whose contributions helped shape the sport of basketball we know and love today. Bringing greater awareness to this history will be especially meaningful with a conference like the BIG EAST whose member schools are among the finest academic institutions in the world."
For a full list of games and more information on the Black Fives Foundation, fans can visit or follow on Twitter and Instagram at @BIGEAST.

Media Contact:
John Paquette
Senior Associate Commissioner, Sports Media Relations
Office: 646-663-3443
About The Black Fives Foundation:
The Greenwich, CT-based Black Fives Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity whose mission is to research, preserve, showcase, teach, and honor the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball, a period known as the Black Fives Era that lasted from the early 1900s to 1950, when the NBA signed its first Black players. The organization advocates expanding Black history education overall to amplify and include this important basketball history, utilizing nearly 1,000 related artifacts in its historical archive as well as a portfolio of related intellectual property and other difference-making initiatives. For more information, please visit
The BIG EAST Conference is an association of 11 nationally prominent colleges and universities that foster healthy athletic competition, community service and the pursuit of excellence in academic environments.  The BIG EAST-sponsored athletic programs of our institutions provide national-caliber participation opportunities for more than 3,800 student-athletes on over 200 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports.  Established in 1979 and headquartered in New York City, the BIG EAST’s members are located in eight of the country’s top 36 largest media markets and include Butler University, University of Connecticut, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University.  For more information, visit