Friday, July 3, 2020

Time For HBCU Athletic Departments To Demand Assistance

In this current climate of #BlackLivesMatter expanding beyond criminal justice and into every fabric of our society of systemic racism the timing is now for HBCUs to demand assistance from the NCAA, federal and local governments, and corporate partners to assist their athletic departments. Early in the morning of July 3, 2020 Five-Star basketball recruit Makur Maker announced he will be attending Howard University in the fall. This is a huge announcement, but it does come with some concerns that will get lost in the excitement.

Makur Maker
Photo Credit; The Undefeated 
Coming from a family rich in HBCU tradition and have attended one myself it is refreshing to see high level high school prospects considering attending an HBCU. But there is concern on whether they are prepared to adequately provide the level of resources to support high end talent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2018, there were 101 HBCUs located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 101 HBCUs, 51 were public institutions and 50 were private nonprofit institutions with a approximately 293,00 total students. That’s an average of 2,900 students per institution.

HBCUs are small, meaning they have very limited resources to support athletic departments. Two conferences, the MEAC (Mid Eastern Athletic Conference) and SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) compete in Division I basketball and other sports and FBS in football. HBCUs face challenges recruiting and maintaining quality coaches and support staffs. 

HBCUs facilities and support staffs are not on par with mid level Division II programs. Men’s and women’s basketball are tasked with playing a gauntlet schedule in “guarantee” games against schools in major conferences to generate revenue for the entire athletic department. Even with that revenue many are fortunate to break even and most are at a deficit at the end of an academic year.

The time is for leadership from HBCUs to put a comprehensive plan together to present to their partners for certain baseline items so their programs can succeed such as:

  • Facilities Improvements
  • Support Staff (trainers, academic advisors, coaches salaries)
  • Travel Expenses 

If Makur Maker starts a trend by attending an HBCU they need to be better prepared to take on a player of his caliber and support the student-athletes in general. The issue is not going to fix itself. The gap between the haves and have nots has widen. It will take being intentional for that to change. 

Jamaal Piper

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Prominent Players Spoke Up Too Late in NFL's CBA Talks

The sports world has been on pause with the coronavirus outbreak. The NFL still had business to tend to regarding their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). For several years the NFL’s owners have been pushing for additional regular season games. The players have been adamant that they did not want to play any additional regular season games. But here we are by a small margin after the players voted with potentially a 17 game regular season and expanded playoffs.

Many current and retired players have voiced their concerns over the CBA. This is what can happen when prominent players are not at the negotiating table from the beginning. The owners successfully used a divide and conquer strategy. They appealed to the short term needs by NFL standards of the middle and lower class knowing they were the majority, 1,019 yes-959 no final vote. Unfortunately in most instances the NFL has had to be forced to do what is right by their players by lawsuits or threats of a lawsuit.

-The late Reggie White led a class action suit in 1992 to get unrestricted free agency that we see today.
-The late Johnnie Cochran threatened to sue the NFL over its lack of hiring of Black Coaches with a 15 year report that chronicled hiring and firing practices. In 2003 the Rooney Rule was instituted making it mandatory that minority candidates are interviewed for head coaching positions. Its 2020 and issue has gotten worse, not better.
`-In 2013 ex-players agreed to a $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players. But there is a lot of red tape and interpretation regarding who gets money and how much.
-Commissioner Roger Goodell has disciplinary power over players with many instances ending up in court and decisions being reversed or reduced.

The NBA last CBA both parties walked away pleased. Partly because prominent players like Chris Paul and LeBron James were involved in the negotiating. Reduced preseason, extended All-Star Break, less three games and four night stretches. And they play a game with less injury concerns than football. It helps when the commissioner is a listener and negotiator not a pawn.