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Grambling alumni savor school's first ever NCAA men's tournament appearance

Grambling State University fan
Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-22 19:26:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Alumni of Grambling State University can finally say they have watched their men's basketball team play for March Madness.

Grambling made the NCAA tournament for the first time since the team moved up to Division I in the 1970s. The 16-seed faced Purdue at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday after defeating fellow 16-seed Montana in the First Four game.

Several Grambling alumni, such as Mark Webster, live in Indianapolis.

"That culture helped develop me as a person. I went to Grambling and became a man," said Webster, who also was born and raised in Indianapolis.

Webster welcomed the Grambling team and alumni from all across the country to Indianapolis for the big match-up.

He operates a catering service and decided to feed the team and alumni.

"I knew the kids wanted a home cooked meal, so I said, 'I'll feed everybody,'" Webster said. "I felt it was up to me to lead the efforts to show Grambling hospitality."

Grambling is a notable Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and participated in the first ever Circle City Classic against Jerry Rice and Mississippi Valley State University.

Indianapolis native Reggie Jones played for Grambling in the inaugural Circle City Classic.

"I felt great as an 18-year-old kid coming back home to represent my school just as much as I feel right now to represent my school and cheer them on," Jones said.

Two Hoosiers are on the Grambling team: Indianapolis Manual graduate Jalen Johnson and Fort Wayne South Side alumnus Mikael Stevenson.

Webster hopes Grambling's appearance introduces more children around Indiana to the significance of HBCUs, since he was inspired to attend Grambling by the Circle City Classic.

"It provided the needed exposure that a lot of our kids were not getting in the counselor's office," Webster said.

Grambling State University is located in Grambling, Louisiana.