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

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