Column: Why highly ranked Black athletes should attend HBCUs

Columnist Ari Payne. Photo by Payne

Historically Black Colleges and Universities were originally created so that Black people had access to a college education. However, in today’s society, highly ranked Black athletes don’t even consider HBCUs and I believe that should change.

Recently, Mikey Williams, a highly ranked basketball player for the class of 2023, tweeted, “About to make folks mad with this!! #HBCU,” after previously tweeting, “Going to an HBCU would’t be so bad.”

These tweets got me thinking of what would happen if top Black athletes decided to go to HBCUs? Especially considering most of the top athletes in money-making college sports are Black.

The two main reasons Black athletes don’t go to HBCUs are that they don’t think they’d get the same exposure as they would at a Predominant White Institutions and the athletic facilities at HBCUs are not as good as the facilities at PWIs. I am going to debunk those theories and explain how they can flip over time.

First, I am going to debunk the theory that the athletes wouldn’t get exposure. I believe they would get exposure, because the demand from sports fans would be too high to watch the top athletes play. Major sports channels such as ESPN would have no choice but to air games nationally. Hypothetically, what if Zion Williamson had decided to go to an HBCU instead of Duke? Williamson’s name was so big it would not have mattered what school he chose, people would have wanted to see him play.

What if LeBron James Jr. decides to go to an HBCU? His games in high school have been televised nationally on ESPN, so you could expect them to be televised when he gets to college. If these highly popular high school athletes go to HBCUs year after year, channels like ESPN, ABC, and CBS would eventually have to make TV deals with HBCUs.

Which brings me to my next point. The amount of money that HBCUs could make from national television deals would help in making better athletic facilities. As a result of getting top athletes consistently and getting televised nationally, it would incentivize alumni to donate money to the athletic programs, which would also go into creating better locker rooms, weight rooms, stadiums, etc.

Another way HBCUs could generate money for athletic programs is from the NCAA. The NCAA makes billions of dollars from March Madness and the college football playoffs. I believe if HBCUs continually bring in top Black athletes, the NCAA would have no choice but to include HBCUs in those tournaments. People want to see high quality sports and if that’s what HBCUs are providing, thats what people would demand to see.

The NCAA is all about money, and if HBCUs help the NCAA’s cause, it will push for HBCUs to be included in those big tournaments. Once HBCUs get that inclusion and get their share of those billions of dollars made off of those big tournaments, they can then improve athletic facilities.

The key to it all is consistency. It won’t happen immediately but maybe 10 years from now. If the top Black athletes go to HBCUs every year, we will see changes in the exposure of HBCUs and the athletic facilities at HBCUs.