Miami New Times.This week, Luke goes to bat for historically black colleges.
The Grambling State University football team's revolt is exposing an ugly reality of college athletics. The NCAA and corporate sponsors do everything possible to make sure big league schools like the University of Alabama, Ohio State University, and Notre Dame, to name a few, continue reaping the rewards of multi-billion dollar bowl games and nationally televised games. But storied black colleges like Grambling, Howard University, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, have to grovel for the leftover crumbs.
The NCAA, as well as major corporations, should be embarrassed by the way they treat historically black colleges. They don't have corporate sponsors. They get no bowl games to generate revenue. They don't get any television coverage for classic rivalry games that fill up stadiums. And they don't get any support from major corporations that are profiting from the black dollar.
Black colleges are shut out of the Football Bowl Subdivision category so these institutions never have a shot at collecting the big pay days that comes from playing in the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. Heck, black colleges don't even get to play in lower tier bowls that would allow the schools to generate revenue that would help offset budget cuts that are killing their athletic programs.
The only way black colleges generate revenue is by allowing historically white institutions like Alabama to pay them $500,000 to $900,000 to get their asses kicked. A school like FAMU gets paid to have their band perform at half-time and lose 72-0 to Oklahoma. This serves as a subliminal message that the white institution is better and that the black college is a second class institution.
What's worse is that the money goes back to a black college's general fund. It's not earmarked for athletics, so you get what happens at Grambling State. Things have gotten so bad at that school players are forced to ride buses to away games, sometimes traveling more than 1,000 miles on a trip. In a letter obtained by ESPN, players complained that they've had to deal with mold and mildew growing on their football equipment and in their work out facilities.
They also paid for Gatorade and Muscle Milk out of their own pockets. Yet these two companies pay white colleges and local high schools with money and product to have their names plastered everywhere on campus.
The NCAA and corporations treat these schools like second-class institutions, regulating their prime time games to Wednesday nights when no one is watching football. There are games like the Florida Classic between FAMU and Bethune Cookman College that always sell out that ESPN can show on television.
There is no excuse for companies that count on the buying power of African Americans to ignore black college sports programs. According to the annual "Buying Power of Black America" report by Target Market News, appliance purchases grew 27 percent to $2.2 billion and computers for home use climbed 28 percent to $3.5 billion in 2012.
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That means General Electric, Microsoft, and Apple, should be tripping over themselves to sponsor black college football games. Corporations like Nike, Church's Chicken, and Johnson & Johnson also have to step up. Nine out of 10 people standing in line to buy new Jordans are African American.
It's time Corporate America recognize black colleges with the same level of respect given to the Alabamas and Oklahomas of the world.
Follow Uncle Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1