The New Wave of HBCU Sports

Skylar Jones

Sports at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are rarely favored over Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) Division I schools, such as the University of Alabama for football, or the University of Kansas, who recently won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball tournament. However, this is slowly beginning to change. With big names such as, J.R. Smith, competing in golf for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the largest HBCU in the country, the nation is beginning to see a shift in where athletes are choosing to go.

For a long time, it was believed that athletes had a better chance of going to their respected professional leagues if they played for a PWI; however, athletes who attend HBCU’s make it to the professional level as well. There are few sports that no HBCU offer, such as gymnastics. In order for gymnasts to continue their career at the collegiate level they are forced to compete at a PWI, Fisk University plans to change that this upcoming year. According to, 18 alums from HBCUs made rosters in the National Football League (NFL) during the 2021 season. Shannon Sharpe, a former tight end turned sports analyst, graduated from Savannah State University; Melvin Cornell Blount, an NFL hall of famer, played for Southern University and A&M College and the list of NFL HBCU alums could go longer.

As for the NBA, many notable names have graduated from HBCUs as well, such as Charles Oakley, who is often regarded as one of Michael Jordan’s right-hand men. As of 2022, many top high school prospects continue to choose PWI’s to further their career, but HBCU coaches are looking to change that. Deion Sanders, head coach of the Jackson State University Tigers football team, recently landed two major prospects for his football program. According to, Travis Hunter of the 2022 high school graduating class is the number 1 ranked high school football player nationally. On December 15, 2021, he publicly committed to Jackson State University, via his Instagram, to be led under Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and 2021 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Coach of the Year, Deion Sanders. Kevin Coleman, ranked in the top 50 nationally, announced his commitment to the Tigers football program on January 8th.

Both prospects had numerous offers from PWIs, such as the University of Alabama for Travis Hunter, which is known to produce many NFL players. The world of basketball seems to be following suit as well. Mikey Williams, a 5-star rising senior, has expressed interest in furthering his basketball career at an HBCU. Alabama State University, North Carolina Central University, and Hampton University are amongst the HBCU’s that he currently holds offers from. Although HBCU sports are overlooked, with this new class of top athletes committing to said schools; things are looking to change.

With these athletes having their tens of thousands of Instagram followers, they are able to showcase the greatness, commitment, and desire to attend in HBCU sports. Fans can catch 2021 SWAC football champions Jackson State University face-off against Florida A&M University in their season opener on September 4th, 2022.

Categories: Education, HBCUs, Sports

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