By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Write

Four of America’s hottest deejays will help the nation’s oldest HBCU athletic conference begin the countdown to it’s march to Charm City with a day party in cyberspace.  Visit Baltimore and the CIAA, the nation’s first Black athletic conference, will host the CIAA Virtual Vibe day party Saturday, June 20 that will be streamed live on the conference’s YouTube, Instagram and Facebook platforms from 3-7 p.m. E.S.T.

Radio One personality DJ Quicksilva and DJ Envy from Revolt TV’s “Breakfast Club” will be joined by DJs Tanz and DJ Darrell Krush, all of whom will try to create the day party experience that drew so many fans to Charlotte, North Carolina over the past decade to generate funds for the CIAA’s General Scholarship fund.  Each DJ will spin music for fans for an hour, targeting four specific conference schools, while trying to uplift the spirit of HBCU sports fans and alumni by connecting them through this multi-platform social media experience the day before summer officially begins.

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“It has been on my mind how can we keep the HBCU fans, alumni and community connected when we’re stuck and shut in,” CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams told the {AFRO}.  “We need something to give us life right now.”

The virtual day party concept was started by Hip Hop artist DJ D-Nice, who made his name as a disc jockey for the 80’s socially conscious rap group Boogie Down Productions with KRS-One. He introduced the Homeschoolin: Social Distancing Dance Party series on Instagram Live in March, which drew scores of fans, celebrities, athletes, and other entertainers for a respite from the stress of COVID-19. The CIAA Virtual Vibe will follow that model.

During the party, each CIAA school’s fan base will also be encouraged to join in the event by sharing memories of their HBCU college experience and by making donations that will be spread among conference schools.  The CIAA’s Virtual Vibe day party is part of a week long pre-summer fundraising campaign to help resolve financial challenges those institutions are facing while recovering from the impact of the pandemic.  Each of the respective personalities have previously hosted live events such as these at the conference basketball tournament recently in Charlotte.

McWilliams, who formerly worked in the athletic department at Morgan State and the NCAA, is dealing with complex issues facing  intercollegiate athletics that are well beyond revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Baltimore was awarded the rights to host the CIAA Tournament in December 2018.  The Tournament’s three-year agreement begins next year at the Royal Farms Arena February 23-27. As of now, there have been no changes to the original plans as a result of COVID-19, but McWilliams promises that any decision to host or cancel will put “safety before revenue.”

 HBCUs, in general, are facing financial, enrollment and student retention issues. Plans are being developed for reopening campuses and how to integrate student life back into the fabric of normalcy moving into the summer with an eye towards the fall semester.  While college and university administrators continue pressing forward with developing plans for their general student populations, athletic departments are working to make adjustments to a new normal where games could be played without fans.

“It’s going to be different,” McWilliams said.  “We may end up competing with no fans. It would be strange to play football with fans or bands in the stand. But we just don’t know right now.”