Many may not know that one of the city’s leading Black entrepreneurs was once a basketball player in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA).
Stanley Tucker, now a successful businessman who founded the Meridian Management Group, donned a Morgan State University basketball uniform in the 1960s— back when HBCUs the primary landing spot for athletic talent and the CIAA was one of the most competitive basketball conferences in the nation.
From 1966 to 1969, Tucker was a guard for the Bears when the program was a member of the CIAA along with other prominent HBCUs like N.C. A&T; Norfolk State; and Hampton. During that era, he competed against the likes of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Eugene Smiley and others.
The CIAA has always been very exciting, Tucker said, and though ball players from other schools were tenacious competitors, they were friends off the court.
“Even though we competed against each other, we were also good friends. We made very good friends from the other teams for life,” said the 74-year-old. “We would go to the various schools – Howard, etc. – and we partied together. Even though we competed on the floor, but we got to know each other as athletes, and as friends… We have those great memories until today.”
Following his career at Morgan State, Tucker didn’t play professionally. Instead, he continued his education and earned a master’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon University. His entrepreneurial pursuits eventually led him to establish the Meridian Management Group (MMG), a firm that provides financing for minority and women-owned businesses.
For the nearly 30 years that MMG has been operating, Tucker has served as the president and CEO of the company.
Prior to forming MMG, Tucker was the executive director of the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority from 1981 to 1995 and worked extensively with the Maryland Black Legislative Caucus.
The South Carolina native moved to Long Island, N.Y., when he was in the ninth grade. He came to Morgan State on an athletic scholarship. Tucker was on the committee who worked to bring the CIAA Basketball Tournament to Baltimore. Since his days in college more than 50 years ago and even after graduating from MSU, the CIAA Tournament has had a special place in Tucker’s heart.
We’re excited about it because ever since I was in college, I was going to the CIAA Tournament and then even when I graduated, a number of my friends at the church I attended – older guys— went to the CIAA Tournament every year. And so I know about the excitement and all the great things, and the great people, and the ambiance, and it’s off the chain,” Tucker said. “It’s a special, special, special event… There’s nothing like CIAA. Nothing.”