More than 65 years later, a college basketball championship team gets its White House moment


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By Willie James Iman, CBS News

Members of the Tennessee A&I basketball team.
Members of the Tennessee A&I basketball team. (TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY)

College basketball’s national champions will be crowned on Sunday and Monday, with a likely celebratory trip to the White House to follow, but after more than 60 years, one team finally has its moment on Pennsylvania Avenue.

“This is the greatest day of my life,” said George Finley, a former basketball player for the Tennessee A&I Tigers during their championship run.

Finley, along with five of his former teammates who are now well into their 80s, met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday at the White House, an experience the former college athletes have waited decades for. 

The Tennessee A&I Tigers men’s basketball team was the first HBCU team to win a national championship in 1957, and made history again by becoming the first college team to win three back-to-back national titles from 1957-1959. 

“I thought this would never take place,” said Finley, who was part of the 1959 championship team and eventually drafted by the NBA’s Detroit Pistons but chose to play for the American Basketball League. “[Winning] the championship was big, but it wasn’t as big as being here with [Vice President] Harris today.”

The original article explains why the team was previously denied the honor.

Our breaking news section covers more Black athletes.

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