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Why Not Us

Why Not Us

  • Premiered: 
    February 12, 2021
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: ESPN+
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Sports
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

Each season of WHY NOT US focuses on a different Historically Black College and University (HBCU) sports team, examining the athletic program's and school's distinct culture, experiences and challenges while revealing what makes the program special -- both on and off the field.

Season 1, WHY NOT US: NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL, takes viewers behind the scenes of the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) men's basketball team. The eight-episode season examines the distinct culture, experiences and challenges of a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) athletic program, its coaches, staff and student-athletes. The series follows NCCU men's basketball team during the 2020-21 season, exploring the stories of pioneering head coach LeVelle Moton (himself an HBCU graduate and former star basketball player at NCCU) and his staff, as they navigate a season unlike any other and help their players achieve greatness on and off the court. Moton overcame challenges along the way to becoming one of the most accomplished, though not widely-known, coaches in college basketball. He has raised the profile of NCCU since he took over in 2009, helping it transition from Division II to Division I, and along the way become a benchmark for success in basketball at HBCUs. Season 1 of WHY NOT US made its linear television debut with four back-to-back episodes on Monday, August 21, 2023 from 6-8pm ET/3-5pm PT on ESPNU.

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, ESPN+ released the eight-episode second season, titled WHY NOT US: FAMU FOOTBALL. The FAMU football program is led by head coach Willie Simmons, who grew up in a mostly segregated town 20 minutes from the FAMU campus. Simmons took over the Rattlers in 2017 following academic violations, sub-par recruiting and budget shortfalls that threatened to shut down the program. In just a few years, Simmons has reshaped FAMU Football in his image, with the values befitting FAMU's reputation of rich culture and tradition that include its incomparable Marching Band 100, legendary homecoming celebrations and a star-studded list of alumni.

WHY NOT US: SOUTHERN DANCE, the eight-episode third season, debuted on Thursday, August 11, 2022 on ESPN+. For over 50 years, the Dolls have set the standard for collegiate dance lines nationwide. Powered by the booming sounds of the school's marching band, the Human Jukebox, the Dancing Dolls push the envelope with every performance, creating unique choreography stemming from their diverse dance backgrounds. Beyond the field, the Dolls are role models in their communities and represent what it means to be strong Black women, pushing the culture with their talent and artistry. Coached by Dr. Akai Smith, the Dolls navigate the rigors of practice, classes and upholding the legacy of the Forever Dolls that came before them. Comprised of dancers from different regions across the country, the Fabulous Dancing Dolls of Southern University grow in their craft, as students, and in life.

Season 4, WHY NOT US: HOWARD GOLF, debuted with four episodes on Monday, August 21, 2023 from 7-9pm ET/4-6pm PT on ESPNU. The episodes were available on ESPN+ later that evening. The new season follows both men's and women's golf teams at Howard University as the student-athletes and their coaches navigate the challenges and triumphs of an emerging Division I program. With an aim toward building a golf legacy that drives a cultural shift in the sport, Howard Golf is primed to compete for championships at top college tournaments across the country. In just its third year as a Division 1 program this past spring, the Howard men's golf team won a second consecutive PGA Works Collegiate Championship (PWCC), the de facto HBCU national title, shooting 57 strokes better than runner-up North Carolina A&T. Howard golfers finished 1-2-3 in the individual competition, with senior Everett Whiten, Jr., winning the event with a tournament record 8-under par 64 in the final round. The Howard women's golf team, in only its second year, placed three players on the Women's Golf Coaches Association's All-American Scholar Team in 2023, as the program continues its quest for a Northeast Conference championship. Howard Golf is led by Sam Puryear, who was named Head Coach of both men's and women's programs in 2020, following 12 years coaching golf at Queens University of Charlotte, Stanford and Michigan State, where he became the first African-American head coach at a Power-5 university and won a Big Ten championship in 2008. Season 4 debuts its eight episodes over three weeks on ESPNU: four installments on Monday, August 21, followed by two episodes on each of Monday, August 28 and Monday, September 4.
The fifth season, WHY NOT US: GRAMBLING DANCE, debuted on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 on ESPN+, with one episode debuting weekly on Wednesdays through November 22. The new, eight-episode season takes fans beyond the performances of one of the most well-respected HBCU dance lines in the country -- the Orchesis Dance Company at Grambling State University. Marching band performances at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are unparalleled -- the thunderous beats and syncopated steps of the band invigorating the crowd, the choreography of the dance line bringing each song to life. Each element creates an experience that is unique to HBCU culture. This season will follow former captain J'aime Griffith as she takes over the program from a legendary director of 38 years, while also re-establishing the work ethic needed from every dancer to uphold the elite status of the Orchesis Dance Company (ODC) at Grambling State University. Step into the practices, classrooms, and communities of this treasured sisterhood and explore what it takes to epitomize the Orchesis.

Other Titles

  • Season 1 title: Why Not Us: North Carolina Central University Men's Basketball
  • Season 2 title: Why Not Us: FAMU Football
  • Season 3 title: Why Not Us: Southern Dance
  • Season 4 title: Why Not Us: Howard Golf
  • Season 5 title: Why Not Us: Grambling Dance

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Roadside Entertainment (Seasons 1-3 & 5)
  • Produced by Ohh Dip!!! Productions (Seasons 1-3 & 5)
  • Produced by Mr. SAS Inc. (Seasons 1-3)
  • Produced by Andscape (Seasons 4 & 5)
  • Produced by Film 45 (Season 4)

Firsts, Lasts & Notable Notes

  • February 12, 2021: First project to debut under "The Undefeated on ESPN+"