Jazz To Sponsor College Scholarship For Each Win

Jan 6, 2021, 11:34 AM
Qualtrics CEO and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)...
Qualtrics CEO and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are planning an ambitious initiative to offer a college scholarship for each victory the team records this season.

On the Woj Podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Jazz owner Ryan Smith touched on the goal which has yet to be officially announced by the team.

“One of the things that we’re doing is for every Jazz win this year, we’re offering a four-year scholarship to an underrepresented or minority kid who can now go to college.”

The program would be the first of its kind by an NBA team to award scholarships based on the team’s nightly performance.

“It’s not only to give folks money who wouldn’t have had a chance,” Smith said. “A lot of people don’t know how to get the process going of getting into college.”

Smith told Wojnarowski that the organization plans to approach different universities looking for multiple scholarship opportunities for prospective students who may otherwise not have had the ability to go to college.

“We will go to universities and say, ‘Hey, we want five or six scholarships, guaranteed, we’re going to bring kids who have never had a chance to do this into your university'”, Smith said. “And we’re going to help cover the cost, will you accept them?”

The Jazz went a perfect 3-0 during the preseason, and have added four more wins in their first seven outings of the regular season, potentially creating seven new scholarships for college hopefuls.

The initiative has served as a motivator for the Jazz players themselves, as both Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell followed up with Smith on the plan after a preseason win.

“They were asking, ‘Okay, we had a preseason win, does that count as one?'” Smith said. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, that counts. A win is a win. In reality, we’re just trying to drive change.”

Jazz Want Change Beyond Scholarships

Smith is also hoping to address social issues that have taken center stage in the NBA over the last six months. The Jazz have been impacted directly as Mitchell has been one of the league’s most outspoken players on the fight for social equality.

The NBA’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement even led one local company to pull their renewal of a luxury suite inside Vivint Arena.

Smith looked at his own company, Qualtrics, and how its shortcomings on equality issues can act as a catalyst on areas the Jazz can improve.

“We had it within our own organization,” Smith said. “And it wasn’t that people were consciously trying to do something. It’s just, we weren’t active in saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to go use our platform to drive systematic change.”

Though the NBA eliminated many of the most forward-facing signs of support for social justice issues, including removing the phrase Black Lives Matter from NBA courts and having players’ last names return to the backs of jerseys, Smith said the Jazz will still be active social issues.

“Our group plans on using the Jazz in this platform to be able to drive proper changes that frankly, should have been done a long time ago.”

You can listen to the entire podcast with Smith and Wojnarowski here.

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