Many HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities, enjoy proud athletic traditions spanning a century or more. Unfortunately, many of these schools don't enjoy the same lines of funding that other national private four-year institutions earn. To earn scholarship funding to attend a HBCU as a student-athlete, you need to pay attention to as many different scholarship opportunities as possible. Public HBCUs and athletic conferences can sometimes be utilized as a source of educational funding.
HBCU Sports Conferences
There are five NCAA athletic conferences primarily featuring historically black colleges and universities as member schools. These athletic conferences include the NCAA Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), and the NCAA Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). HBCUs are primarily found on the East Coast of the United States, south of New Jersey and westward until Texas.
NCAA Athletic Scholarships
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has strict rules on the number and award amount of athletic scholarships granted to student-athletes at member institutions. Although Division I (D1) teams have more money to give their student-athletes in scholarship funds, the 156 NCAA Division II (D2) programs, including CIAA and SIAC member schools, are allowed to award a maximum of 36 athletic scholarships to students across all sports programs. The NCAA routinely sanctions member schools violating scholarship regulations; in 2006, 65 different D1 schools, including four Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schools, had scholarship fund reduced because of poor academic performance by student-athletes.
Public Athletic Scholarships
HBCUs are traditionally underfunded, so better prospects for sports scholarships for student-athletes may be found from public institutions classified as historically black. For instance, Florida A&M University, a public institution and a MEAC member school, awarded scholarships to 150 men and 239 women student-athletes; a great majority of these went to black students. Public HBCU institutions include Alabama State University, Alabama A&M University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Delaware State University, University of the District of Columbia, Albany State University, Fort Valley State University, Savannah State University, Kentucky State University, Grambling State University, Southern University A&M College, Southern University at New Orleans, Bowie State University, Coppin State College, Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, North Carolina Central University, Winston-Salem State University, Langston University, South Carolina State University and Tennessee State University.
Sports scholarships are sometimes offered by the athletic conferences of HBCU schools. Both the SWAC and CIAA offer athletic scholarships offering $5,000 and $3,000, respectively, for student-athletes attending member schools. Eligibility requirements typically include 3.0 minimum grade point average, positive intellectual development and evidence of superior character or leadership.
- U.S. Department of Education: List of HBCUs
- CollegeScholarships.org: College Football Scholarships
- USAToday.com: "NCAA Grade Report Cites 65 Schools for Scholarship Penalties," Eddie Timanus; March 2006
- Florida A&M University: Athletics - 1999-2000 Facts and Statistics
- SWAC: Sports - Frank/Norrell Scholarship