The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference partnered with Hudl and the Urban Edge Network to help level the playing field.

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have a rich and storied athletic history. They’ve served as home to trailblazers like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Wilma Rudolph, who each propelled themselves from anonymity to stardom on an HBCU campus. 

Despite this, they’ve faced an uphill battle to gain exposure. With the scales of college athletics so dramatically tipped towards higher-budget programs, HBCUs have had to scratch and claw for even a share of the recognition they deserve. 

The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) took matters into its own hands. They signed the largest deal of its kind with the Urban Edge Network to serve as the conference's official streaming partner—with help from Hudl. Each GCAC school will be equipped with a discounted Hudl athletic department package, which includes Focus cameras to stream their games in HD. 

"Urban Edge Network, LLC is proud to partner with Hudl to provide video services to GCAC campuses,” said Urban Edge Network CEO Todd Brown. “The natural synergy of capturing sports magic at the HBCU arenas and distributing the games on HBCU League Pass+ will have an immediate positive impact on these communities, alums and students." 

"This partnership is the next step to building a solid infrastructure to promote our institutions and monetize our content. This foundation is long overdue for HBCUs and we are setting the standard for creating relationships for the elevation and financial sustainability of our schools. We are grateful to Urban Edge Network and HBCU League Pass+ for providing the vehicle for us to make this happen," said GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes.

The GCAC, headquartered in New Orleans, is made up of eight HBCU member universities in six different states. The goal is to create a buzz around the conference that matches the energy of its home city. “We want the GCAC to be a vibe,” said Danielle Wright, GCAC Director of Strategic Communications. And that starts with ensuring that their athletes have the same opportunities afforded to those at powerhouse programs. 

This partnership is a huge step in that direction. With Hudl’s athletic department package, each GCAC school will now have access to a suite of technology that truly levels the playing field at each individual program, and throughout the entire conference. Simply put, the GCAC didn’t have a seat at the table, so they built their own. 

Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle is the ability to broadcast remotely from their fields and gyms with the Focus camera. They’re given the freedom to do it their way with the Urban Edge Network, a leader in the HBCU media space and a perfect partner for what the eight schools are hoping to accomplish. 

It gives us an opportunity to showcase our institutions in their best light. Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes, GCAC Commissioner

Each school can now create its own content and showcase all of the unique stories that take place on its campus. This allows them to provide a window into the HBCU experience, and the chance to further shape the narrative around HBCU culture. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase our institutions in their best light,” said Barnes. 

Schools have the chance to monetize their content by selling ads on their broadcast, allowing them to bring valuable revenue back to their program. This is in large part due to the quality of the broadcast delivered by Hudl and the Urban Edge Network. It’s a model that Power 5 schools have figured out—leverage partnerships and media rights to create a product people will pay for. 

With more of their games being broadcast, GCAC athletes are in line for a level of exposure they simply weren’t getting before. The most important people in their lives can tune into their games, home and away. They can better promote themselves with more robust highlight reels, opening themselves up to opportunities at the next level, or a higher level of financial security with NIL deals. It’s safe to assume that the new opportunities created with this partnership will only help the recruiting efforts for the entire conference. 

With this partnership, the GCAC is leading the way with what a conference can do with all the tools that Hudl provides. “This deal is a paradigm shifter,” said Hardy Pelt, Founding Member of Urban Edge Networks. “There’s a sense among other schools like, ‘Oh, we can do this too?’” 

If you listen closely, you can hear the scales shifting ever-so-slightly toward a more equitable future for college athletics. And the GCAC has a prime seat at the table.