May. 3, 2017

If You Are A Great Black Athlete Why Not Attend An HBCU?

Yesterday my fraternity brother whom I respect to the “nith” posted on social media something that got me to thinking about the value white society has placed on the black male athlete. He indicated that the exemplary “black male athletes” should consider attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities rather than automatically casting their lot with primarily white institutions of higher learning.  He, himself, being a former athlete who played college football at then Morgan State College at an age when our race wasn't being recruited to play at many of these institutions simply because of the color of our skins. It was during that period as well when professional football scouts had to score the campus of the HBCU’s to discover the talent of many future football Hall of Famers, as well as future NFL players.  

This year at the Super Bowl, the National Football League honored 26 NFL Hall of Famers who attending HBCU schools of higher learning.  You know what was significant about these 26 men honored? They all graduated from those schools and developed lasting lifetime relationships not only with their fellow teammates but also with the students who attending school with as well as the professors who taught them. You know that the odds of securing a professional career after college are a long-shot at best only 2% of NCAA athletes end up in either the NFL or the NBA. For minority athletes, that figure represents the hope of a lifetime because for many of them they will not matriculate from their chosen university.

 Let’s talk facts because facts are what we have to go by when measuring educational inequity for the black athlete attending the BIG FIVE Conferences. These 65 institutions make up the Power Conferences BIG TEN, PAC 12, BIG 8, SEC, and the ACC and they include all the powerhouse schools of NCAA competition. That’s where you find the Alabama’s, Auburn’s, Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson’s, Florida and Florida State’s that dominate the nation’s media attention during the fall, winter and early spring. There are only “one” of these institutions, Northwestern University, of the BIG TEN, that graduates athletes at a rate higher of equal to the undergraduate student's overall graduation rate. Just one school, one school, period. That actually reflects more than paying lip service to educational equity for black athletes. All the other 64 schools are either trending water or failing miserably in terms of black athletes receiving degrees in at least 6 years.

 These 65 institutions make billions of dollars on college athletes from media, from promotions, boosters, heck even selling the names and numbers of these athletes. Yet when it relates back to doing the job the recruiters stated when he/she was in that living room it’s failing miserably.  Be a black recruit at the University of Mississippi with the understanding that only 1/3 of these men will actually be conferred a degree from that Oxford, Mississippi campus. Go to the Great Plains and be a black athlete who wants to be a Wildcat? Well, my brother, you may be one of the 1/4 who graduates but most likely you will be one of the 3/4 who doesn't.  Just how many Kansas State athletes are playing in the big leagues?  

I really look at this issue and I am amazed that so many black athletes get fooled by the bright lights and never fully critically analyze the actual degree of success these schools have. Who can’t recall the travesty that occurred at the University of North Carolina where actual criminality was involved in maintaining black athletes eligibility. They weren’t learning anything just simply wearing the Carolina Blue for entertainment purposes only. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that you can’t allow someone to ride your back once you straighten it. Well, we straighten up our backs once before and felt empowered enough to fight back. How did we allow ourselves to put our precious jewels back into this position of being simply tools for economic gain while getting gutted of educational progress? These institutions are making as I said billions of dollars. Yet they are failing our young black men and we are in the stands cheering this failure on. 

In addition, we send our men to campuses where even in 2017 they are faced with being not only minorities but supreme minorities. Send your jewel to Auburn, Alabama not only won’t most likely not graduate but exactly how many lifelong friends will he develop? Let’s be a black Auburn Tiger where almost 80% of the campus’s athletes are black while only 3% of the total campus is black. You want to discuss racial disparity. This occurs so often in our schools south of the Mason-Dixon Line it’s deplorable. These black men are simply attending most of these institutions as entertainers not excepted to be scholars. Heck, many of these schools provide vehicles to ensure that these athletes are channeled into non-academic majors or course. For every Joshua Dobbs who graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, there is a Rashad McCants, or Mike McAdoo who participated in North Carolina’s attempt to collar scholarship in hopes of winning games. You think that what happened in Tar Heel land was unique to Chapel Hill? Think again, the reason our black athletes are recruited to many of these institutions is for one reason and one reason alone to entertain. If they aren’t up to snuff on the athletic end many of them are bounce as if they were cannon fodder.

That is why my fraternity brother in his post asked this question? Why doesn’t the high-quality black recruit not attend a Historically Black College & University? At least on those campuses they will be respected, admired, loved and most importantly taught. They will learn the history of a great people directly from the people who live that experience day to day. Plus, have you ever attended an HBCU Homecoming Event? That is enough for any former athlete to bridge the gap back home. Not only will he be cheered for his period on campus but he’ll have instructors who truly care about him. In addition for his lifetime, he will be measured successful with a degree from an HBCU. Guess what scouts will find him and quality chocolate always rises to the top.