HBCU Sport Stability-What Is Really the Best Course?
Well now that the dust has settled on Florida A&M moving to the SWAC, in 2021 there will only be seven football playing schools left in the MEAC which could signal the beginning of the end for the conference. A great deal of prominent HBCU minds on Twitter talked about the possibilities of what the remaining schools could do, which quite frankly for me sparked the motivation behind writing this piece. Those that love and care about HBCU Sports simply want greatness at all levels.
At the Celebration Bowl back in December, we were able to talk to the Commissioners of both the SWAC and the MEAC. Both Dr. Charles McClelland of the SWAC and Dr. Dennis Thomas of the MEAC echoed similar sentiments about the stability of the conference, academically and financially, but only Dr. McClelland spoke about possible expansion. He may have been giving hints then, but only in the context of expanding to make financial sense, something he emphasized during his tenure. Hampton left previously, North Carolina A&T announced they were leaving back in February, and now FAMU drops the bomb that they are leaving the MEAC too.
Preserving HBCU Sports is paramount, especially in this climate where our schools are often underfunded, and donation levels are not the same as PWI’s. A lot of those great minds have thrown around ideas that may seemingly take a bit of “swallowing pride” but long-term stability is the ultimate goal. If you analyze some of the financial and enrollment issues at schools like Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State, one idea of dropping down to another division sounds reasonable. Just think about a scenario where you take the remaining schools of the MEAC and merge them with the CIAA or those that regionally fit could go to the SIAC, just look no further than Savannah State.
You solve some of the problems that were brought up in exit interviews from departing schools, such as saving money on travel, apparel deals, and boosting attendance. I feel that a lot of common-sense changes could remedy what HBCU Athletic Programs are looking for which is stability and long-term growth. What do you think, let me know!
Jamie Walker is a Freelance Writer, Analyst, and Play by Play Voice for such entities as the HBCU Report, The Atlanta Voice, SIAC, and FloSports. You can follow him on Twitter @CoachWorkMedia, Facebook at CoachWork Media Enterprises, LLC or contact him by email at email@example.com.