Eric Atkins: Bigger Than Basketball

By Eric Atkins

Eric Atkins is a 2014 Notre Dame Men’s Basketball alumnus, three-time Irish captain, and an all-ACC selection. He is currently serving as the Assistant Coach at Howard University.


When I heard that our game versus my alma mater, Notre Dame, was being rescheduled to Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Burr Gymnasium, my first reaction was pure happiness. I imagined a packed gym with screaming fans and the hottest ticket in The District on January 18, 2021, would be to get in our arena. 

When I had the chance to take a step back and think about this game in the grand scheme of everything that is going on in the world today, the game honestly doesn’t mean as much. It is the statement that Notre Dame is making by taking a step as a university and a basketball program to bridge a gap that is so desperately needed in this country today. 

Believe me, the game is huge and I am 100 percent sure it will be my scouting report the team will hear in the days before the game. Best believe our team will be ready to do what it takes to finish the game with a ‘W’ on our side of the column. 

But this is bigger than basketball! 

This is a moment in time that all of the Notre Dame student-athletes and staff will get a chance to experience the Historic Black College and University (HBCU) culture that is so amazingly rich and beautiful. I am sure they will never forget this experience. 

I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to start my coaching career here at Howard University. For a guy like myself who is from the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area that taught me everything I know about basketball –  to be able to start my coaching career right in my backyard has been nothing short of amazing. 

The energy this city has for basketball is unlike any other and it has been great to soak it all up once again. I’ve learned so much about myself and my culture over this past year that I will never take for granted. 

A lot like Notre Dame, Howard University is a school focused on academics and doesn’t take any shortcuts on that side of the institution. It has been a pleasure to work with such amazing student-athletes. 

Another aspect of my time at Howard that has been enlightening is learning about the rich history and accomplishments from the alumni from this university and other HBCUs. Howard has the alumni that I would put up against ANY other school in the county. From politicians, actors, doctors, dentists and more, the list of accomplishments of Howard alumni is unlike any other school in the country. 

I’m pumped up about this game on MLK Day for the opportunities on both sides to talk, listen and learn more about each other – as well as play a great game of basketball.


– Eric Atkins

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