Monday, September 24, 2012

Why do Top High Black Athletes go to Predominantly White Institutions over Historically Black Colleges and Universities

October is an exciting month for football and with it comes one of the largest athletic events in Texas to the State Fair --- the Grambling State University versus Prairie View A&M University football rivalry. This football game is one of the biggest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) classics in the nation. As a black man (and future coach), I started pondering the question as to “why don’t more top high school black athletes attend HBCUs”.
     I believe there are many factors that high school athletes consider when they are being recruited by college athletic programs. For the top high school African American athletes, they must choose between prominently white institutions (PWI) and HBCUs. After researching and discussing the topic with many others, I formed the following opinion on the matter.
     I think that coaches from PWIs do a better job recruiting top black high school athletes than coaches at HBCUs. I’m convinced that some black student athletes view college as an opportunity to better their life especially the ones from low income families. Most black student athletes want to play professional sports so they can provide for their family. Another example of top black high school recruit choosing PWIs is most likely due to the fact that most are higher ranking Division I colleges and as such receive national television exposure each week. It’s not often that you see HBCUs playing any kind of sports on national television. These young men go off to colleges with high expectations about their athletic abilities. I feel like they choose to go to prominently white institutions in order to have a better opportunity of achieve their goals.            
     Top African American recruits prefer to go to higher ranking Division I colleges because they have a better chance of making it to the NFL. When I started playing football at a young age I use to have dreams of playing in the NFL. Almost every guy who has played organization football has dreamed of making it to the NFL. Yet, athletes that play for the HBCUs are often overlooked by the NFL scouts. How often have you seen televised games from the SWAC or MEAC Conferences?
     Athletic facilities are another factor in the decision making process. Most PWIs have state-of-the-art athletic facilities. According to research conducted by Joseph (2008), “What has hurt HBCUs in recruiting is the lack of premier athletic facilities, which has in part been one of the most noticeable funding disparities greatly affecting their football programs”. It is simplistic but true - more top black athletes go to PWIs over HBCU because their athletic facilities are simply better.
     Top black athletes should choose the colleges that are going to help them succeed in life. When comparing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to Primarily White Institutions (PWI), I truly believe that PWIs give top black athletes a greater chance of fulfilling their goals and aspirations.
Joseph, J. (2008). Black Students Athletes Changing Football at HBCUs.


  1. I think that this is a very interesting topic, and one that I have never given much thought about to be honest. When you think about college football, a thought that may cross through your mind is most likely the powerhouse SEC conference. I follow some college football teams, but I have never even heard of the SWAC or the MEAC conference. When student athletes are deciding which college is going to benefit them the most (black or white), obviously a nationally known college is going to be at the top of their list. The top NFL prospects usually come from a Division 1 school if you go back through the years. Colleges that produce winning records in sports year by year are going to have the best facilities. When a student comes to tour a college, what do they look at as they are walking around? The facilities, of course! Athletes are going to choose schools that have the best impression on them, or that “wow” factor.

  2. All races of athletes now and days are looking past the educational opportunities and deep aspects of the program and are looking at the looks of everything. I completely agree that athletes walk onto a campus and immediately get drawn in to the stadium, field house and housing that the school has to offer them. This comes from winning records and, as Jason has already stated, is due to fantastic recruiting by the schools coaches. Athletes want to go somewhere that they will be recognized by the whole nation and get rewards from their talent (i.e. championship rings). What comes with success in a program? MORE MONEY! With more money come better facilities and supplies. Athletes love to see if a program is sponsored by Nike, Under Armor or another big athletic apparel company. This goes back to mentality that "If you look good, you feel good and if you feel good then you play good". Young athletes want all the best clothes, pads, helmets, shoes and practice gear. Just to have that Nike "swoosh" or the Under Armor "U" makes all the difference in an athlete’s playing ability. This is because athletes are all about the mental aspect of the game. If the facilities are just as nice (i.e. have laptops in the lockers, big screen TVs, lounge area, giant training rooms with hydrotherapy rooms, etc.) then the athlete will want to be a part of that program even more as Jason explained also. Jason made a good point that the PWIs are more successful at recruiting the African American athletes because of what all they have to offer.


  3. This is a great topic and I agree with you 100%. Growing up as a child I always wondered why no top black prospects ever committed to Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU). After experiencing the recruitment process myself and going to both Predominantly White Institutions (PWI) and HBCU. The decision was clear. When you try and compare the two you can’t. There are three distinct reasons that stick out in my head personally: facilities, exposure, and level of competition. PWI usually have state of the art facilities compared to HBCU. Which have very mediocre facilities. The level of competition and exposure go hand and hand when trying to make a professional team. PWI give athletes the best opportunities to achieve those goals.

  4. From personal experience, playing colligate sports at a predominantly white institution compared to a Historically Black University is as different as night and day. The biggest reason for athletes choosing PWI’s is the increased chance of becoming a professional in their participating sport due to the prestige of their PWI and the power associated with receiving a degree from a PWI. There are several other reasons for black athletes choosing PWI’s over HBCU; sometimes it’s simply the bad rep that is occasionally associated with HBCU’s. When I faced the decision on where to transfer someone close to my family made this statement, “A job will most likely look at a résumé of a person who has graduated from a lower level no name college before they look at someone from a HBCU.” I didn’t believe that statement and still don’t but a lot of peers from my previously attended HBCU have struggled to find a career using their degree. I would like for HBCU and the NCAA to work out a plan to change that perspective and catch up with the 21st century. Yes, I know what HBCU’s were built for and it has done a great job, but times have changed and if one does not change with the times it will eventually become irrelevant and powerless.

  5. When the states' start having parity in school fundings... Blacks will always have less trinkets to offer these athletes. I fi d it funny that no one is talking about the graduation rate at these money making institutions. Blacks are producing money to support the bsnds, cheerleaders and all the r3st of the athletic programs. The white race will never allow Blacks to be superior in nothing in America. Think... do you think that a majority of whites going to a Black university and providing outrageous profits. Integration was pushed by whites to capture the best in the world to do their bidding. As far as jobs are concerned the whit3 race will ALWAYS look out for their own. Now Blacks go out there and pick that cott... oops.. I ment football.0

  6. I agree to an extent to what you wrote but you should have expounded on the fact that the PWI's have better facilities because of the black athletes. Also in the area of exposure kids are being followed at the high-school level, which begs the question why are the better black high-school athletes going to white schools? Nothing like keeping the system unequal and thriving.

  7. I've thought about this often. It's really a personal decision, but one that many athletes realize long term what's best for them. It's almost universally known that predominantly majority schools have more money, but a large amount of that money comes from athletic depts. that are generated by the talents of minority players. If you think tax dollars fund Ohio State's campus, you're missing the boat. I don't understand why more black athletes don't take the initiative to look out for their own interests by also shining a light on schools that were once the only option. Either way, they would still get drafted, but the $ game shows that athletes coming out of smaller schools make less money when drafted because they had to play tougher competition. That would change in a little less than 5 years if even 1/3 of the top college athletes went to hbcu's but blacks have not evolved enough to fully realize their worth but on and off the field, and here we are.