When George Lynch was leading the University of North Carolina to the 1993 national championship, he and his fellow Tar Heels were truly in Blue Heaven.
Healthy meals, five-star accommodations, high-level training and medical care, and top-quality gear were the benefits of being at an elite, rich program.
“The way athletes are treated…you were treated like family.”
“It was a culture shock leaving UNC and going to the NBA,” said Lynch, explaining the cold, hard business of the NBA, where he played for 12 years with the Lakers, 76ers and Hornets.
Fast forward 26 years after that championship season and Lynch is entering his second year as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Clark Atlanta University – where he often finds himself struggling to afford the basics such as a recruiting budget and a weight room.
“When I got to CAU, there were a lot of things that we didn’t have,” said Lynch, who averaged 15 points a game in leading the Tar Heels to Dean Smith’s second National Championship. “I have seven scholarships, competing against schools with 12 to 14. Unfortunately, we are being asked to compete at the highest level with a lack of resources.”
On Friday, Lynch will host the Arts for Athletes fundraiser, where he will try to raise $200,000 for the CAU basketball program.
The event, to be held at the Westside Cultural Arts Center, will feature live and silent auctions, a roundtable with professional athletes, and cocktails and dancing.
More than a dozen artists, including Fahamu Pecou, Cecil Bernard, Monica Tookes, Fabian Williams and former NFL player Takeo Spikes have donated nearly a quarter-million dollars worth of art to be auctioned.
In its third year, Arts for Athletes is the signature fundraiser for the CAU men’s basketball program. The original event raised money for scholarships only.
Lynch tweaked its purpose to raise funds for scholarships, summer school, equipment, meals and tutors.
“Unfortunately, there is a huge disparity between seemingly unlimited funding and alumni support that drives Division I schools and the limited resources that plague historically black colleges and universities athletic programs,” Lynch said. “After experiencing both sides, my goal is to level the playing field.”
Lynch took over the CAU Panther program for the 2018-2019 season, finishing third in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Arts for Athletes roundtable discussion and auction will be hosted by retired Coca-Cola executive and UNC alumna Lisa Fey. The evening of cocktails, hosted by lifestyle specialist Kenny Burns, will feature live and silent auctions.
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