H.B.C.U. Sports Next by Nate Taylor
HBCUs are not secret to African American culture. Truthfully, it is one of the most cherished and celebrated accomplishments for any student who has the pleasure of attending one of these sacred universities. Howard University, Hampton University, Morgan State University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Grambling State University, Bowie State University and Clark Atlanta University. Ever heard of them? If not, I have one thing to say, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!! These are just a few of the 107 Historically Black College Universities in the nation. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson, Taraji P. Henson, Spike Lee, Toni Morrison, Phylicia Rashard and Will Packer; leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Marian Wright Edelman, Langston Hughes and Alice Walker are just some of the thousands of people who have graduated from these Power House College/Universities. Known for their amazing education and the top Fraternities and Sororities in the world, these school were never known for their athletics even though they are prime schools for more than half the athletes in high school sports. But this all can change very soon.
With the raised attention with the Black Lives Matter movement since the senseless murders of Mr. George Floyd, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Ms. Breonna Taylor and so many more, top African American high school Athlete are seriously considering attending an HBCU. Freshman Mikey Williams, the #3 rank player in the 2023 high school class from San Ysidro, CA posted a tweeted-on June 2 “Going to an HBCU wouldn’t be too bad…”. Mikey literally has college drooling at the opportunity for him to play for their top Basketball Powerhouses, but can you imagine the impact he would have it he switched it up and took his talents to Morehouse or Howard and brought them to the NCAA Championship. If Mikey could not only go but encourage player like Bronny James and get Emoni Bates to decommit from his home town Michigan State and attend an HBCU…… Yea I know that a long shot but the impact of that would change the entire structure of NCAA basketball. It would not stop there!! Imagine it rolls into football, baseball and NCAAW basketball. You want to talk about CULTURE and SWAG!!!
The potential impact of the top African American High School Athletes going to and HBCU, would not only increase enrollment but would provide the necessary capital ($$$) that these institutions have been longing for. It is no secret that the top athletic division 1 college such as Duke University, Alabama, Clemson, Florida University, Miami University, UCONN and Texas have all benefited from African American and Black athlete’s gifts on the court and field. GUESS WHAT??? Most of these institutions are predominately white!! The University of Alabama has won have won the most NCAA football championships (5) since 2008. Data USA reports Alabama has a total enrollment of 38,563 students: 76.6% WHITE, 10.6% Black, 4.5% LATINO or HISPANIC, 1.22% ASIAN, .032% AMERICAN INDIAN and 0.112% NATIVE HAWIAIIN. Talk about “Diversity” right. In being a former student-athlete, schools such as Alabama, Kentucky and Florida blind us as a community. When we turn on the TV and watch March Madness or college football on Saturday, we see athletes that look like us but in having a conversation with athletes at these schools, they walk into their classroom and they “might be one or two Black students of fifty in the room.” Something they did not see or get the chance to experience on their visit. This is no disrespect to these institutions because they do give an opportunity for African American/Black student-athletes to get exposure so they can get to the next level athletically, but the truth is everybody is not going to make it to the league so what support are you giving these athletes outside of sports? How are you helping them feel like they fit at your school outside of sports and their athletic ability?
Accountability falls on HBCUs in acquiring these athletes as well. Financial hardships are understandable but making yourself more available to these athletes would give them more to consider. Your number one focus in not athletics but having more of an interest in athletics and these top recruits would bring more exposure to your institution. More interest from these athletes brings more students wanting to be enrolled, more student enrollment means more finances your way. Seriously, most of these athletes are coming from urban communities that HBCUs are in or have professors/administration that have lived in urban neighborhoods. This is important because being transparent to a young adult or the parent of a young adult is vital to them feeling comfortable and trusting you. Let these amazing athletes walk on your campus during visit. OH, more importantly let them visit during your HOMECOMINGS, which are the greatest in the world. Let these athletes see the family environment amongst everyone, give them the opportunity to meet the amazing alumni you have and the culture of the campus. As a Historically Black College University, you have the advantage when it comes to culture and swag compared to these other institutions. Upgrade your training facilities and locker rooms so these athletes can feel like they have the best equipment. Make yourself more available and have a presence at these urban community high schools. Create an easier way for high school students to have accessibility to you. Yes, this easier said than done but every alumnus I have spoken to has expressed their support in making their alma mater a better institution and will help by whatever cost. Sadly, the history of some GREAT HBCUs might depend on it.
As I am writing this, it has been reported that Five Star basketball recruit Makur Maker has committed to Howard University! SHIN A LIGHT ON HIM. Maker is the #16 recruit in ESPN 2020 class and has chosen Howard over UCLA, Kentucky & Memphis. He has become the highest ranked prospect to commit to a HBCU since 2007. Congratulation Mr. Maker on starting something we all hope comes a trend in the African American and Black communities. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. UNITED!