U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was booed on day three of the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, as she watched her alma mater, Howard University, fall to the college basketball powerhouse of Kansas.
A graduate of historically black college and university (HBCU) with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and economics in 1986, Harris showed up at a suite at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday to watch her bison get blown up by the Jayhawks, 68. -96, with her husband and second gentleman, Doug Emhoff.
“I mean, we’re here in Des Moines. And they’re going through a tough time, they work hard, they’re so disciplined and it’s a joy to see them here in March Madness,’ Harris said of Howard’s men’s basketball team in second period. “So many of us who are here love our school.”
“And at Howard University, I ran for my first office as a freshman class representative and I’ve always been a part of the Howard community. And I’m sure everyone who has a team understands what that means and the joy and the commitment that we have in the traditions and the loyalty to your team.
When the vice president was shown on the arena’s jumbotron, the boos drowned out the round of applause given to her, according to the Associated Press. Crowd demographics may have played a role in their reaction to seeing the former California senator on the arena’s video board.
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff watch during the second half of a first-round college basketball game between Howard — Harris’ alma mater — and Kansas at the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Des, Moines , Iowa
Harris opened up about her time at Howard, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1986, with TBS’ Allie LaForce from Wells Fargo Arena.
MIXED REACTION: Harris was booed and applauded when shown on the arena’s 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 was shown on the arena’s big screen.
More than half of Iowans (53.1%) voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, compared to 44.9% of the vote for Joe Biden.
Fans from Kansas, another Republican state, may also have been behind the chorus of boos. Although Trump won the state with 56.18% of the vote in 2020, Biden’s 41.53% vote share represented the highest for a Democratic presidential candidate since 2008 – among the best increases in the Biden’s statewide election.
On Thursday, Harris also stressed the importance of funding sports programs at HBCUs to shape the lives of “our current future leaders.”
“These sports programs have to be well resourced because when you look at the coaches like the coaches of the two teams that are here, they invest in these students as a whole person, so yes, it’s about helping them to to be the best and the most talented on the court. But also off the court,’ Harris told TBS’ Allie LaForce.
“They invest in these children, they invest in their education, they think about their lives and all that they bring to their schooling. And I admire those coaches for really investing in our current future leaders.
The vice president’s comments come a day after commissioners from four major HBCU conferences — the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) – agreed to work more closely together by partnering with professional sports leagues, including the NBA and NFL, to increase the value of HBCUs and send more athletes to the pros.
“We do this collaboratively knowing that we have strength as a collective,” said SIAC Commissioner Anthony Holloman. “We know when we play our conferences, compete, it’s a game, but every other day we support each other.”
With less government funding and fewer resources than Power Five schools, black schools have historically had a harder time recruiting top athletes. Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) offerings, with little uniformity in how they are applied across states, schools, and regions, have widened this 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, in her 10th year as commissioner of the CIAA, a league made up of 12 HBCUs in Division II, has seen NIL make way for schools to help athletes turn their creativity into money.
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC), an HBCU league of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, has partnered with marketing company NIL Athlyt and media company network Urban Edge to create NIL offers for athletes.
“It helps us improve a lot of things now, our conference operations,” said GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Barnes, “and what we’re able to do for our student-athletes.”
They are now finding these opportunities amid unprecedented attention for HBCUs. HBCU male basketball athletes Texas Southern and Howard competed on the NCAA national stage this week despite both schools losing to Fairleigh Dickinson and Kansas respectively.
The Norfolk State women’s basketball team beat Howard in the MEAC conference tournament to advance to face No. 1 overall South Carolina on Friday.
Deion Sanders, now a Colorado football coach, helped the HBCU gain popularity when he was at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Deion Sanders, now a Colorado football coach, helped fuel HBCU’s resurgence in popularity when he was at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil, a professor at Texas Southern who focuses on HBCU athletics, said Sanders’ star power, coupled with racial reckoning after the 2020 killing of George Floyd, allowed more resources to be poured into black schools.
“Some people have their popularity, but the openness (of Sanders) to providing his thoughts, a soundbite, that everyone got to see ‘What does that mean? “, Cavil told The Associated Press. “And that really propelled the HBCU programs into this atmospheric climb.
The SWAC conference, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), leads all HBCU conferences in total NIL revenue, ranking 21st in athlete compensation, according to data compiled by the sports company. technology and marketing NIL Opendorse.
Prior to attending Howard’s game against Kansas, Harris spoke at Grand View University, a Lutheran college, where she was hosting a panel discussion on reproductive rights.
The VP then spoke with the Howard players in their locker room after the loss to Kansas, giving them an inspirational pep talk to recognize their effort, talent and discipline.
“You put everything you had in the game, and you know that’s what it’s all about, don’t you,” Harris said. ‘Until the last minute, you did this. You didn’t stop until the last second, you didn’t stop. And it’s so inspiring.
“So you keep playing with your chin up and your shoulders back because you showed the world who Bison are.” I mean, literally what you’ve done is of historic proportion. I was at Howard at the time, where we were just happy there was a game, let alone getting to this place.
”And I see Bison literally all over the world, and we’ve been talking about you, this team. […] You make us so proud. So know that you may not be feeling well right now, but know who you are. You are excellence. You work hard. You are powerful and you are winners. So please know this.
Harris ended his speech by inviting the Bisons to visit the White House whenever they feel like playing school hooky. The players laughed at the vice president’s joke soon after.