In exactly five months since being named Jackson State University head football coach, Deion Sanders has done hundreds of interviews, recruited dozens of top tier football athletes from around the country, been at the center of discussions on development for two reality television shows (a College Hill reboot and his own property), been robbed twice and won a single football game.
Sanders has not minced words about how JSU misses the mark in the condition of its facilities, nutrition for players, and now, its security personnel and systems. Months ago, most people could’ve made the case that Sanders was working hard to stir up investment and public support in the program.
We all knew that Sanders would be his own public relations machine at Jackson State, and that the school would either rise with his lofty ambitions or sink under the weight of his bigger-than-life personality. Given the emerging story arc of his time in Mississippi, Sanders has positioned himself as a well-intentioned victim; a high-profile Black athlete trying to do right by his people, only to be betrayed by low aim and shady dealings within a Black community.
Whether he intends it or not, Sanders is making Thee Jackson State, one of the HBCU sector’s largest, most acclaimed institutions in research, sports, political clout and social impact, look like a podunk Black college community that can’t get right.
Jarrett Carter is the founding editor of the HBCU Digest. He is a 2003 graduate of Morgan State University.