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Kentucky basketball signs on for Unity Series with SWAC

Mar 13, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA; General view of the basket after the game between then Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and North Texas Mean Green at Ford Center at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA; General view of the basket after the game between then Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and North Texas Mean Green at Ford Center at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky men’s basketball program made a five-year commitment to the Unity Series, which will pit the Wildcats against a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

One game each season will be played between the 2021-22 and 2025-26 seasons, beginning Dec. 7 when Kentucky hosts Southern at Rupp Arena, Kentucky officials said Wednesday.

The SWAC is comprised mostly of historically black colleges and universities, and the purpose of the Unity Series is to increase awareness about the HBCU schools and raise money for the SWAC member institutions.

“I am really proud of our leadership for identifying an opportunity to take what we do on the basketball court and leverage it into an annual weeklong event that will have a major impact on HBCUs and their students,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a school news release. “My hope is this event not only opens the door for opportunities for students at HBCUs, but that others at our school and across the country will take advantage of the educational opportunities that we will put together to continue the meaningful conversations and changes that have taken place over the last year.”

The annual series will feature an educational and networking component with virtual panels and leadership workshops available to students the week before the game.

“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is extremely excited to partner with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program on unifying initiatives that will significantly raise the overall awareness of the missions of our 12 member institutions and HBCUs as a whole,” SWAC commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland said. “The educational and networking opportunities this partnership will provide our students and student-athletes undoubtedly goes well beyond the game of basketball. We’re looking forward to doing our part to make this innovative strategic plan a success.”

–Field Level Media