Several college basketball programs are having to drastically re-think their 2020-21 plans due to the coronavirus. Already some tournaments have been canceled, the inaugural Atlantic 10-Mountain West Challenge has been put off at least a year and several nonconference games for early November have been eliminated altogether.
One special contest that has not been canceled, though, is Notre Dame traveling to Howard on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
On Tuesday, Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey told CBS' Matt Norlander that the game will still be played.
"We will be in DC on MLK Day," Brey told CBS.
The game is set to mark the first time that Notre Dame will travel to a Historically Black College and University (HBCUs). It will be played on an important day for the country as it honors Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year it also happens to be two days before the presidental inauguration.
The announcement by the two programs came during a wave of support and attention for HBCUs. At the time, several high-name prospects had either announced their consideration or commitment to one of those schools. Other high-profile coaches had also expressed interest in supporting HBCUs with either events or nonconference games on a HBCU campus.
Both Brey and Howard head coach Kenney Blakeney have ties to the D.C. area. They both played at DeMatha Catholic High School under legendary coach Morgan Wooten. Blakeney was also an assistant to Brey at the University of Delaware.
Schools have scheduled nonconference games against HBCUs in the past but typically they were 'buy-games' where the HBCU has to travel to the high-major program. This way, the HBCU not only gets the gameday environment of having a top program on campus, but they get the ticket sales, the homecourt advantage and other broadcasting perks if the game is televised.
This matchup was made even more interesting when the Bison landed five-star recruit Makur Maker the following month. Not only did it make Howard the favorite to win the MEAC, but also a legitimate threat to win some games if it makes the NCAA Tournament.
A lot still has to happen for the game to be played, but for now it looks like both sides are persistent on making this historic head-to-head matchup happen.