Top College News Subscribe to the Newsletter

HBCUs Struggle to Compete with White Institutions Athletically

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, August 30, 2010

Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010 19:09

University of Michigan Stadium



Before integration, black athletes were rarely recruited by predominantly white institutions so they had little options but to enroll and play at HBCUs. Then in Sept. 1970, Sam Cunningham's historical performance against the University of Alabama changed college football recruiting forever.

Soon after that, many white schools began to heavily recruit black players. University of Alabama offered a scholarship to Wilbur Jackson, the first African American in Tide history to receive a scholarship from the school.       

Predominantly white institutions are able to pamper their recruits with state of the art facilities, dormitories, huge football stadiums and nationwide exposure to NFL scouts. HBCUs have struggled to sign the best recruits because they are lacking in these categories and many of their schools' football programs are not funded like larger schools, such as  the University of Florida or the University of Southern California (USC).

The main difference when comparing football programs such as Howard's and University of Florida is that one is a private institution and the other is public.

 "The obvious difference between HBCUs and PWIs, is they have a  considerable amount of more scholarships to give out, which naturally adds more depth, which makes it hard for HBCUs to compete because it's a numbers game," said Donald Ware, who hosts the nationally syndicated sports show "From the Press Box to Press Row."

Public Universities receive  millions in funding from the state for their football programs and other aspects of their school. They apply this money towards physical facilities, academics, better dorms and classrooms and quality labs. Also, the alumni base between a private and public institution varies. A private institution is not as large, so its disposable income for giving back is not as high.

 " Financial support is almost non-existent compared to the other large division one schools in the athletics field. It's unfortunate we don't get the same opportunity as those other athletes that attend the neighboring schools," said Chatman Young, senior right guard.

PWIs offer more seats for fans and onlookers than other schools. The biggest football stadium for an HBCU belongs to Norfolk State University, which can seat up to 30,000 people. The University of Michigan stadium can seat up to 100,000 people. Howard's Green Stadium can only seat up to 10,000 people.

 "Overall, the HBCU does not have financial resources that predominantly white institutions have because the HBCU funding has been put into the physical plant of the university, to renovate dorms, class rooms and laboratories, as opposed to the emphasis in athletic venues," said Newton Jackson, PhD, former athletic director at Florida A&M University.

Although Cunningham's performance will forever be remembered as the day that broke segregation among college football, it was also the day that HBCU's lost key recruits and the ability to compete with predominantly white institutions.

Recommended: Articles that may interest you


Mon Sep 6 2010 14:46
Very enlightening article, it shows just like in a lot of areas of our community we RUN instead of BUILD. What's new? HSBU schools having star athletics outside of the hood or school helps with recruiting but I guess it's easier and more comforting to go where a strong foundation has been built. We didn't create football or most sports so maybe ironically it's best to go where their is a strong history of the sport.
Fri Sep 3 2010 23:45
What about all the HBCUs that are public institutions? Based on this article, they should be going well in terms of athletics. The public vs. private argument doesn't hold up.
Thu Sep 2 2010 21:17
We (blacks) already dominate the professional arena. Our educational institutions need to stay focused on retaining students to graduation and recruiting young black men off of the streets and into school.
Thu Sep 2 2010 12:15
Although, I agree with the basic premise of the timely article, it is factually incorrect. USC is not a public state institution - please see below. Someone should fact-check these articles before publishing. Nevertheless, this is a big weekend for HBCU football.

Howard @ Holy Cross
Hampton @ Central Michigan
SC State @ Georgia Tech
Savannah St @ Georgia Southern
FAMU @ Miami

Although, the HBCUs will likely lose across the board, it is important that "we" continue to play these games. It is an important "test" athletically and an important educational opportunity for the PWI's. In most of these cases, like Georgia Tech, the PWIs have never played an HBCU. It is good for them to see our competitive spirit and pageantry of our halftime shows and learn about our impact to the educational diaspora.

check for more

USC at a Glance

Located in Los Angeles, a global center for arts, technology and international trade, the University of Southern California is one of the world’s leading private research universities. USC enrolls more international students than any other U.S. university and offers extensive opportunities for internships and study abroad. With a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education, USC fosters a vibrant culture of public service and encourages students to cross academic as well as geographic boundaries in their pursuit of knowledge.

Mon Aug 30 2010 11:30
Your point is duly noted. However, USC is a private institution as well.

log out