HBCUs Struggle to Compete with White Institutions Athletically
Published: Monday, August 30, 2010
Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010 19:09
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.