The NFL extended its partnership as sponsor of the fifth annual HBCU Battle of the Brains competition, which returned in-person at SXSW in Austin, Texas from March 9-13. The annual competition featured over 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with students battling for coveted scholarship prizes.
"We are excited to continue our long-standing partnership with the HBCU Battle of the Brains," said Natara Holloway, Vice President, NFL Business Operations and Strategy. "This event gives us a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of innovative thinking and ideas from an immensely talented group of students from HBCUs. The NFL's commitment to providing a platform that highlights the extraordinary skills and creativity of HBCU students is a priority now and into the future."
SXSW provided a backdrop to highlight and showcase innovative thinking and diversity of minorities in tech and innovation. The 2022 HBCU Battle of the Brains assembled some of the best and brightest STEM and business students from HBCUs across the country to compete for more than $80,000 in total scholarship winnings. The students were given 24 hours to provide a solution to the NFL Business Case before pitching to judges in front of a live audience. The competition concluded with students being evaluated on analysis, a business and technology solution, and a final presentation with Q&A.
This year's NFL Business Case was to design and implement an HBCU Student and Alumni Portal. The teams were tasked with launching a website or mobile app by researching and finding solutions to the specific focus areas to create an original platform, develop a website or mobile app concept, assign task managers, source content, and organize the website or app launch event.
The team from Fisk University was awarded the grand prize of $50,000. Huston-Tillotson came in second place winning $20,000 and Morehouse College who finished in third place won $10,000. In a surprise moment, NFL Legend, and business mogul Marshawn "Beastmode" Lynch announced he and current NFL players Josh Johnson and Marcus Peters, would donate $10,000 from their foundation towards the scholarships.
Various NFL executives and staff across the league and media offices served as featured speakers, team mentors and competition judges during the four-day event. Gregory Gibson Jr., the Founder and Executive Director of HBCU Battle of the Brains, created the competition to support the mission of HBCUs while giving exceptional business and STEM students within the African American community and technology industries a platform to shine. The HBCU Battle of the Brains also demonstrates the NFL's commitment toward innovation to help advance the sport.
"I am so proud of each of the students that participated in the fifth annual HBCU Battle of the Brains," said Gibson Jr. "These amazing students deserved to be seen and seen fully, and the full support of the NFL provided illumination of what these brilliant minds are capable of."
LaMar Campbell, NFL Legend and current Vice President of Player Engagement with the Chicago Bears, witnessed first-hand the brilliance demonstrated by the HBCU students.
"The excellence of the men and women that I experienced at the HBCU Battle of the Brains stands as a pinnacle experience in my NFL career," said Campbell. "The ability to spend time with the amazing students in Austin and learn about the rich history and culture they have built at this event inspires me in a special way that contributes to my day-to-day work with the Chicago Bears. I see myself in them and in turn it contributes to the future and opportunities that I can assist them in achieving because if you want to look towards the future, you have to impact the present."
A featured NFL panel shared how they can navigate their success on the field as they excel in their business ventures away from the gridiron. The week also included informational meetings with administrators, HBCU presidents and top NFL executives.
For more information, visit the HBCU Battle of the Brains.