Howard University’s 96-68 loss to defending NCAA champion Kansas in the opening round of March Madness was not the biggest story out of Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines Thursday. The biggest story of the night was Vice President Kamala Harris being booed mercilessly by the crowd.
The VP was attending her alma mater’s game when she appeared on the arena’s video board. That did not sit well with the audience.
There were a smattering of cheers, but several reports confirmed the boos rained down from the hyped-up crowd in what became a noticeably chilly reception.
To add insult to injury, after the loss the vice president entered the locker room to give the Bison her version of a pep talk — it didn’t go well.
Harris told the dejected room that “you played hard. You played to the very last second. You made all us Bison proud,” she said. “You are smart. You are disciplined. You put everything you had into the game. You guys did not stop, and that is so inspiring.”
The VP added, “You are excellence. You are hard work. You are powerful, and you are winners.”
The Twitterverse did not respond kindly to Harris’ attempt at a rallying cry. One user observed that “every team that loses should have to listen to this as a punishment.”
Another said “there is something very wrong with this woman.” And another expressed sympathy for Howard, noting that not only did they lose the game, but “then had to be subjected to this speech.”
Howard, Harris’ alma mater, was making its third NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearance in school history. It entered as a 16 seed, the second time it held that ranking. It was a 12 seed in 1981.
Harris graduated from the HBCU in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics.
Interviewed during the first round matchup, Harris gushed over her school’s appearance. “I mean, here we are in Des Moines. And they are a tough time, they work hard, they are so disciplined and it is a joy to watch them here in March Madness.”
She added, “So many of us who are here, we love our school.”