Curtis Symonds, CEO of HBCU Network launched a new mobile app last year that would exclusively live-stream inter-collegiate sporting events from HBCUs. The goal for the app is to allow recruiters, parents, students, and alumni to become better informed on how well Black student athletes are performing from the four major HBCU football conferences – Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference.
He spent 13 years as Executive Vice President of affiliate marketing at BET, and before that was the Director of affiliate marketing for ESPN.
Symonds has a long history with cable television, and with many networks migrating to the online arena – he thought it best to be ahead of the curve in Black sports. Working for those networks allowed him to see the lack of coverage and exposure given to HBCUs, where many talented Blacks have come from.
The concept of HBCU Network originated in 2011; Symonds negotiated a deal with Comcast that would’ve offered him a linear channel, but when the company acquired NBC in 2013, the deal fell apart.
“I never wanted to let it die,” explained Symonds in an interview for theGrio.com. “I called myself being ahead of the game, and it kind of blew me when it happened because it broke everything up.
Fortunately, it didn’t stop him from opening the network. He plans to bring HBCUs the much-needed exposure they deserve in an effort to highlight the positive influence of attending such colleges.
Symonds is interested in promoting the history, legacy and the education of these schools. HBCUs offer more than quality education, and with more coverage to athletics and other happenings around the campuses he feels that their value will be more appreciated.
In his interview he said, “All Black kids are looking for is exposure. I tell people all the time – go to the NFL Hall of Fame and you’ll see that the majority of the Black players came out of HBCUs, and that’s a fact.”
Since the mobile apps launched last year, HBCU Go has gained over 2,000 users. The company’s current strategy is to tap into every HBCU alumni base across the nation.