Sports programs funding: HBCUs receive less than PWIs

Kiaira Wheeler

For many years, HBCUs have faced difficulties, including in their sports programs. Some athletes aspire to play in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other professional sports leagues. There have been many discussions over which institution is best for such athletes. In addition, it has been debated which institutions can better develop the athletes and are capable of leading them into the sports industry. In this regard, there have been concerns about HBCU sports programs that need improvement.

Chloé Clark wrote an article titled “Athletic Programs: PWI vs. HBCUS in which she pointed out how PWI is a great chance for black athletes. Today, Black athletes have a better chance of attending a PWI because they have more funding, resources, and offers than HBCUS.  Clark wrote that “HBCUs remained at a lower level due to black athlete extraction that occurred, ultimately causing a damaging impact on the economic viability of HBCU athletics…” 

The article “Athletic Programs: PWI vs. HBCU,” further explained how the PWI sports programs gain much more total revenue each year, which indicates higher ticket sales, rights/licensing, and contributions. Instead, HBCUs are facing a lack of financial support. As for facilities in these two classes of institutions, the difference indicates “systemic racism that persists even within college athletes.” Without the proper funding, revenue, and facilities, HBCUs remain unequal. For example, the University of Miami Watsco Center has a $ 53.4 million facility, whereas Morehouse College Forbes arena is an 8 million facility.

The article “The HBCU vs. PWI student athlete Dilemma Giving Up Opportunity Over Culture,” discussed how athletes choose a college by identifying which type of requirements they look at when looking for a school — that includes scholarships/funds, programs, and the advancement of their career.  The African American community sees the potential in attending a PWI because they see the exposure that PWI  can bring to help them succeed, other than the equality and cultural experience they could potentially have if they attend an HBCU. In a 2019 article published in “The Atlantic,”  data show that about 27 Division 1 school bring $100 million in annual athletic revenue. For example, the University of Virginia is the top 27th school with the most revenue from college sports. The University of Virginia has made over $ 31.6 million in donations, Licensing/Rights fees, $39.6 million 3-year avg. Football revenue, $26.9 million 3-year avg. Men’s basketball revenue, $9.5 million, and 3-year avg. Women’s basketball revenue of $1.0 million. In Predominately White Institutions, black men make up 55 percent of the football players in the conferences and 56 percent of basketball players. 

According to Jan Blade, DSU Chair of the Department of Sport Management, on her point of view on why HBCU sports programs have fewer resources than PWI and also why she thinks black athletes choose PWI other than HBCUs. “When you say PWI has more money, you’re only looking at what you see on TV, People don’t know how good we are. They see exactly what they see on TV, but you have to remember who’s running that Tv station.  They will make it look like the big school is the best, but all in nature, they’re not the best fit for many students. I wouldn’t say minorities, but HBCUS is an excellent fit for many people. We don’t get the publicity we deserve because if people knew how good our bands, our academics, how many support services are available, and how good the people are on these campuses, they would be flocking in.”

Jayden Estes ( #42) DB came into the action of getting the football from the opponent 

Three Delaware State football players commented on why HBCUs receive less financing than PWI, how it impacts athletes who want to go pro, and how it affects them as football players. Jayden Estes (#42), a DB player, stated, “It is common for African American men to attend a PWI over an HBCU for football mainly because of the number of resources and how much more PWIs have to offer versus HBCUs. At a first glance, when you look at a football program of a PWI vs. an HBCU, the PWI usually looks flashy/newer. However, the facilities, equipment, fan base, resources, and other accessories stand out because PWI generally produces more attention than HBCUs. Before coming to DSU, I had no prior knowledge about HBCUs and wasn’t aware of the culture or what they had to offer. Coach “Prime” (Deion Sanders) brought light to HBCU football as he was able to use his platform the right way and bring attention to the talent and culture of HBCU programs.” 

Estes continued, “As a football player, you must have good resources to make it to the NFL. I have enough resources to make it to the NFL, especially after Coach Prime (Deion Sanders) has brought attention to HBCU programs. No matter what school or program you are a part of, whether it is division 1,2,3, or Juco, everybody plays on the same field, everybody has the same rules, and we’re all playing the same game. The game doesn’t change regardless of what level you play. They’ll find you if you’re good enough and can play.” 

A picture of Mathias Peoples (#71) and Konner Blount-Foster (#3) getting ready to play 

Mathias People (#71) OL said, “I believe in a degree, certain people out here work harder than the next person. It’s important to begin consistently and stay focused. I don’t think it’s all about the resources. It’s also about your work ethic and networking. Many times, it’s who you know that can get you in a position. I have the resources because I know multiple people inside the NFL and various trainers at the greats.” 

Mathias People continued and stated that he was unfortunate not to get many offers because the high school he attended was more focused on academic-based school, but didn’t push for athletics. Luckily, Mathias Peoples secured two offers: Rockford, Illinois, 2 D3, and Wesley. Peoples stated he chose DSU by quoting, “I took the offer from DSU because they gave me the academics; although they are different, they are very similar. They both are PWI, although, at the same time, they offer money in other ways because they didn’t have D3. They can’t give you money for athletics, so they have to hide it differently.”

Peoples shared his thoughts on what he would change in the sports program. He said, “I would change it to be more organized because I know that often things are just put out late or not in a timely manner by giving everybody everything needed to get done in that time frame. So I want it to be more structured by ensuring everybody is doing the right things to make the team successful and progressive and not be stuck in the same place for a long time. I think that’s where the problems come in. Especially in the culture inside the weight room, on the field, and in the locker room, it needs to be more like a family among HBCU programs and know technique and just be fundamental in football.”

Another football player commented that, “Coming out of high school, I didn’t have the grades to go to a university, so I took the Juco route. While at Juco, I received offers from PWIs such as Missouri State and Western Illinois and HBCUs such as Lane College, Benedict, and DSU. One of the biggest differences between the institution was the people that work there. While calling and sending over my transcripts to PWI, it was no problem. Also, whenever I had to deal with admissions, it was hassle-free. Compared to dealing with HBCUs, when I called admissions, no one would get back unless spamming them with dozens of calls. It would take weeks for admissions to give a callback or even an email. On my visit to PWI, the campuses are cleaner compared to HBCUs, and the staff working there are way more organized and helpful. Even coming from a Juco, they were better organized, and the staff provided were way more helpful to their students.”

Overall, HBCUs must achieve the goal of increasing funding for their athletic programs. Athletes need to have adequate resources to play and get recruited. It is essential to provide assistance and access for students to obtain what they require. 

Categories: HBCUs, Sports

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