Since integration swung open the doors of higher education to everyone, enrollment at HBCUs has steadily declined and athletic programs have suffered. It is no secret that HBCUs don’t have the financial resources of predominantly White institutions. As a result of the disparity in budgets, the funding priority for HBCUs is the physical plant of the university, the renovation of dorms, class rooms and laboratories, as opposed to the emphasis in athletic venues.
Frustration is palpable among HBCU athletic administrators, exhausted from trying to stretch a dollar and keep flailing programs alive with little help. According to the 2007 budget figures from the Office of Postsecondary Education, Delaware State has the deepest athletics pockets among all HBCUs. There are 339 Division I institutions, and the $17.2 million budget at Delaware State ranks 124th. By contrast, the athletic budget at Ohio State is nearly $125 million.
Given the chance to follow the money trail to better facilities and greater exposure, the best Black athletes are no longer choosing the HBCU route….despite the demonstrable benefits of a HBCU education. The biggest football stadium for an HBCU belongs to Norfolk State University, which can seat up to 30,000 people. Howard's Greene Stadium can only seat up to 10,000 people per game. The University of Michigan stadium can seat up to 109,000 people.
Because most HBCUs have not been able to upgrade their facilities in years, they face an almost insurmountable challenge in recruiting top athletes when competing against schools with state of the art facilities, huge football stadiums and basketball arenas. HBCUs need our help and funds we raise and generate through the Authority’s offerings and programs will be used to assist them in a battle that they are no longer equipped to fight alone so that the proud programs of the past do not disappear altogether. If they do, then the institution itself will not be far behind.