Howard University to face Morgan State at the inaugural HBCU Classic during NBA All-Star Weekend

Howard University won’t be playing rival Morgan State in the District this year – instead, the Bison will face each other in the inaugural HBCU Classic during NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

The NBA says it hopes to generate exposure for historically Black colleges and universities at the All-Star weekend again this season.

READ MORE: FOX 5 on hand at historic rivalry game between Howard University and Hampton

The league says the game will be nationally televised from the Wolstein Center.

Howard athletic director Kery Davis wasn’t sure how his basketball coach, Kenny Blakeney, would like the idea of giving up a home Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game against a rival. Turns out, Blakeney didn’t need any convincing.

"This is great for everybody," Davis said. "A rising tide lifts all boats and this is a great opportunity for all HBCUs and for us individually in terms of exposing people to our university and our university’s history, traditions and excellence, quite frankly. So, he got it right away."

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The Associated Press says a number of the game’s elite players have been campaigning for the league to elevate HBCU’s – including LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.

On Thursday, in addition to announcing plans for the game, it revealed the start of a paid fellowship program that will place HBCU students in jobs with the league office and with NBA and WNBA teams.

READ MORE: Howard University head football coach resigns amid accusations

"The NBA should be commended for the foresight and willingness to address important issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion," Morgan State athletic director and vice president Ed Scott said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report