SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore says the gap between the haves and the have nots in collegiate athletics is increasing and HBCUs are not part of the discussion.
Moore, speaking at SIAC Media Day this week, said black colleges and universities have been left out regarding many issues that could impact the current and future landscape of college sports.
“I believe the gap between the have and have nots is growing to the point where it’s becoming alarming,” Moore said. “When you have the average payout at a Power 5 conference school exceeds the top line revenue of all the HBCU conferences combined, that’s a problem,” Moore said. “That should be discussed. No one is talking about it.”
In recent months, there have been discussions about player compensation beyond the athletic scholarship complete with initiatives highlighting the need for athletes to have unlimited meals and other amenities. All this comes at a cost, though. A cost that the majority of HBCUs can’t afford.
Moore said HBCU leaders are being ignored at the highest levels as leaders debate possible unionization, scholarships and other hot-button issues that create waves throughout the press.
“One of the comments in the room was there has been no discussion about black colleges,” Moore said. “During (NCAA) president Mark Emmert’s three-hour discussion (before the senate commerce committee), no mention of historically black colleges and the impact that all these reforms and deciding changes may have on historically black colleges. I’ve got to say I’m troubled by that.”
Moore, like many other HBCU and smaller college league head honchos, are concerned that Bowl Championship Series conferences — with all their, influence, excess and millions at their disposal — are wielding too much power, which will inevitably hurt HBCUs if and when reform comes.
Moore estimated the SWAC, MEAC, SIAC and CIAA conferences made roughly “$18 million” total in the academic year, but said each school from power leagues on average made “more than $20 million.”
“That doesn’t include what they make in the games, their home games, merchandising, their own TV rights,” Moore said.
HBCUs are not equipped to keep up with the Power 5 conferences or most Division I leagues for that matter. Schools have to beg, borrow and deal just to make ends meet. And even then those strategies don’t always guarantee them anything of substance.
“African-American male athletes at power conferences are, to some degree, being depended upon to drive the economic inequity between those conferences and HBCU athletic programs.”
More financial resources are needed for academic support, especially as it related to APR, where many HBCU schools have struggled to keep up.
Moore also pointed out what he called a “cruel irony” that BCS schools have for so long relied on elite black male athletes to generate revenue for football and basketball at the expense of black colleges that have had difficulty for the last half-century attracting that same breed of talent to use for profit.
Moore’s overall comments speak to the heart of the issue for all of HBCUdom: where do black schools fit in the forthcoming new age of college athletics?