Press release -
Basketball star and community champion honoured by Northumbria University
The Chairman of the British Basketball League and owner and managing director of Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club, Paul Blake, has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Northumbria University, Newcastle.
The award recognises not only Paul’s impact on the sport of basketball, both in the North East and nationally, but also his commitment to the local community through the club’s charitable organisation, The Eagles Community Foundation.
A Northumbria alumnus, Paul graduated with a degree in Sports Management in 1994. Just five years later, at the age of 28, he bought the Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club from former Newcastle United Chairman Sir John Hall.
Since then, under his management and guidance, the Newcastle Eagles have become the most successful team in British basketball history, winning 27 trophies over the last 20 years.
In 2019 Paul saw his long-standing dream of the Foundation owning and controlling its own facility realised with the opening of a new, purpose-built arena on Scotswood Road in the West End of Newcastle.
Speaking about his honorary degree, Paul said: “It’s an honour to be receiving this award after starting my journey here at Northumbria University. The education earned was the key to help us build what we have over the years as a club and foundation. We have been on an unbelievable path since in building what we have, and I am thankful to everyone in our organisation for their commitment over the many years.”
Alongside his commitment to success on the court, Paul has dedicated his career to providing opportunities through sport. The Eagles Community Foundation was established in 2006 and works with young people across Tyneside, Wearside and Northumberland, with the aim of growing levels of sustainable basketball participation.
Paul has also maintained his links with Northumbria since graduating, working with the University to establish a number of opportunities for students, including a partnership between the Basketball World Governing body (FIBA Europe) and Newcastle Business School to enable professional basketball players from across the world to study leadership and management courses up to degree level. The programme aims to equip students with the skills to transition from elite players to top international coaches or business managers.
There are also future plans for Northumbria University and the Eagles Foundation to work together on the Hoops 4 Health programme – the Foundation’s introductory scheme, involving Eagles players delivering healthy living activities with primary school children. Activities will be delivered in the INTO University centre that Northumbria has recently launched with Newcastle University with the aim of inspiring local young people to pursue healthy lifestyles and aspire to higher education.