The Aftermath: What Will Be The Future Of HBCU Athletics?

Will recent incident at NC A&T affect other HBCU athletic programs?

By: Taren Vaughan

After serving two years at North Carolina A&T State University, Wheeler Brown is no longer the athletic director. And his departure was not at all by choice. On last Friday, the university’s chancellor Dr. Harold Martin dismissed Brown from his AD position as a result of the untimely death of student Jospin Milandu. Milandu underwent an ill-advised tryout for the school’s track team earlier this year. With all sports on every level, the one thing that all athletes must have is a physical examination. And that is what Milandu was lacking that could have saved his life.

An autopsy report revealed that Milandu suffered from sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that heavily affects the African American population. And complications from the disease are what caused his death. Numerous tests can determine whether or not a person has the trait for the disease. Unfortunately, these tests were not given to Milandu. One of the most important was being his physical. It was said that if givne one, his condition would have been detected. And there was no record on file of one for him.

Not requiring that he present a record of his physical or even get one for that matter is a direct violation of the NCAA’s rules and regulations. There are no two ways about that at all. And for that reason alone, Brown was shown the door immediately after this discovery was made. After all, Chancellor Martin made it point to say that he was very firm about his expectations from Day 1:

“Since my arrival here at A&T University I have stressed adherence to university policy, practices and procedures for all university administrators”

We have seen how this situation has taken its toll on the athletics department and the student body as a whole at NC A&T. But how will it affect other HBCU’s and their sports programs?

When it comes to athletics, predominantly black institutions always get the short end of the stick. Why is that? Because many of our schools can’t afford it. In order to have a solid athletic program that gets top notch recognition and is viewed as truly creditable, somebody somewhere has to come off some serious cash. Why do you think schools like UNC-Chapel Hill and The University of Texas have these powerhouse football programs? Sure their student body populations are bigger so their chances of having the cream of the crop are much higher. But it is ultimately because a healthy check was written to them somewhere along the line. The funding and support that HBCU athletics get in comparison to predominantly white institutions is massively different. So if historically black colleges and universities are currently in this position right now, how do you think what happened at this particular university will affect where they stand in the future? If you thought it was bad for them now, prepare yourself. It could have the potential to get much worse.

Now you may say, “This happened at A&T so it won’t affect anyone else but them”. That seems like the logic way to view it. But the truth of the matter is, is that when one HBCU is called down for not having their stuff in order, especially when it comes to academics and athletics; it affects all HBCU’s as a whole. This incident will not just leave an ugly scar on A&T’s athletic program but it will cause other programs to potentially feel the wrath from it. One positive thing about this whole situation is that it may serve as a way to ensure that all the other HBCU athletic programs will crack down on thier employees and see to it that they abide by the rules and regulations of the NCAA. But it’s a shame that it would’ve come at the expense of a young life that was lost that could have been saved.

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