By now, you know that Deion ‘Coach Prime’ Sanders has landed in Jackson, Mississippi, as first reported by HBCU Sports, and the world has tilted on its proverbial axis.
Between the buzz of five-star center Makur Maker heading to Howard University and now Deion Sanders taking the head coaching position at Jackson State, HBCU’s are suddenly being thrust into the mainstream sports media.
With the political climate in America being what it is, there has been a movement for Black people to reach out culturally to those institutions that are dedicated toward their advancement, and HBCUs are one of those institutions.
Sports are woven into the fabric of Americans regardless of color. So it is a natural fit for those who want that cultural attachment and celebrate sports and pageantry to gravitate to HBCUs.
Fixtures like the NFL and NBA have made concerted efforts to give more exposure to prospective players and exposure to HBCU students for the business side. Those that support HBCUs are excited and should be.
As HBCU stakeholders, we are ecstatic at the national attention our schools are getting; however, we must keep our focus on advancing the positive causes of our institutions without getting caught up in foolishness.
There have been a plethora of opinions and questions related to the hiring of Sanders, understandably. Some questions range from “who is he bringing with him?” to “what are his intentions for the future of JSU?”
Most of the questions and inquiries are legitimate considering Sanders’ willingness to go to a destination, frequently led by his spirituality as he’s said on numerous occasions, and his business ventures off the field having just left the NFL Network for Barstool Sports.
Sanders has addressed some of the questions and concerns. In particular, one was by ESPN’s Bomani Jones, who, on a recent episode of ‘Highly Questionable,’ questioned Sanders’ motives behind taking the Jackson State job.
Jones’ comment was not seemingly with ill intent towards Sanders, as Jones is a Clark-Atlanta University graduate. Still, Sanders would later call Jones a “hater” and essentially say that he is at Jackson State to win and improve the school’s profile. Others have taken to social media to echo both sentiments, while others have chosen a particular side.
For all of this, we must remember the primary purpose of HBCUs is to educate. We, as stakeholders, must continue to protect the integrity of our institutions.
No one wants Sanders or anyone else charged with elevating the schools we hold near and dear to our heart to fail. Because as one does, so does all of them.
The definition of failure, in this case, is not losing football games; it’s losing our souls for notoriety in the process.
Because we care about our HBCUs, stakeholders should ask tough questions for the sake of improvement without being put into the category of ‘haterade.’