Is It Fair For An HBCU To Be Led To The Slaughter Every Spring?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: March 9, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — Two teams from the MEAC and SWAC will be dressed for a dance that they may never get a chance to go into in two weeks. These two schools will be the 16th seeds in the “Big Dance” and many people will be thinking that one or both of these schools have the chance to make history when in reality these two teams will be nothing more than sacrificial lambs for one of the bigger schools with bigger budgets.

By the time the tournament gets into full swing, these two teams will have been a distant memory. So why does these two conferences go through this ritual each and every year? Because they need to get paid.

It may not be right and it may not be fair, but this is the nature of the March Madness beast. Very seldom do small schools have the heart and will of a lion and be able to deal with the demons to the Final Four. George Mason did it last year but Delaware State, Grambling, Southern and other HBCU schools are not this year’s version of Cinderella like George Mason was.

To put it bluntly, the talent pool at the HBCUs are not like it used to be and it will make it difficult for them to compete without these teams going in with an “us against the world” mentality. Is it fair? No, but it is the reality.

HBCU schools who are Division I are classified as a ‘mid-major’ but in reality they are the biggest targets for ‘stat padding’ by the bigger schools and they take ‘hush’ money in the process.

If this sounds like a scam, for a school like TSU it is but the money is sorely needed. Mid major, or smaller schools, are required to play at least four big games a season.

For example, UTSA, a mid major school, plays Kansas State or Kansas, and the big school, for playing against them, pays them. The price per game may be $80,000 a game but if you are a school like Hampton, you’ll take the $320,000 for those four ‘butt whoopings”.

Again it may not seem fair but it is the system, as we know it. Every now and then the sacrificial lamb gets loose and goes on a glory run. Hampton did that a few years back and it was a wonderful sight to see.

But reality came quickly to the Pirates as they were later shown what they were; a school with some good pieces but ultimately the team just isn’t talented enough in a tournament full of sharks.

The good thing for these two lambs however is the fact that they do get exposure. The exposure on a national stage is sometimes a better advertisement for recruits than a formal visit.

Let’s hope that some of that money gathered during the season will help the coaches bring in bigger and better players and one day challenge the big boys like Gonzaga did so many years ago.

It may not be fair to watch these two teams get slaughtered but at least they get there. Not many schools can say we have an NCAA appearance.

BEHAVIOR CHANGE NEEDED…PART I You know that you are living in a hellacious lifestyle when the ‘po-po’ doesn’t believe that you are the victim of domestic violence. Such is the case of Ron Artest.

Have you heard the 911 tape of what I will assume is his wife calling to ask for assistance? Do you hear her admit to smashing his windshield as he was trying to ‘flee’ a heated situation? If you haven’t heard the tape, then maybe you need to.

Listen to it:

Now I’m not trying to stick up for Artest in this matter. First of all it think it is down right cowardly for a man to strike a woman. And let me say that if a woman is the aggressor, then she needs to be treated in the same manner that a man would be. Fair is fair in a fight folks.

Now with that said, let’s just say that the ghettoized couple needs some serious help. Artest needs his head examined and so does this woman, whether it is his wife, girlfriend or whatever the relationship is.

And I’ll go further and say that if this is NOT his wife, then maybe it is time that his wife realizes that he will never be a loyal spouse no matter how much money he has. There are some things more important in life than the size of your baby daddy’s wallet.

The Sacramento Kings knew there was the possibility of Artest being a distraction to this team. Eric Mussleman can ring his hands and ponder a what if all he wants but he needs to let Geoff Petrie handle this situation.

After all, Mussleman isn’t so clean right now either and isn’t the ‘perfect’ role model to comment on this situation. The Kings need seriously think about whether this is the type of person they want in their organization. This situation isn’t going to get better and it definitely could get worse.

BEHAVIORAL CHANGE – PART 2 It seems that the NFL may be getting around to enforcing the personal conduct policy they have in place in the case of Adam “Pacman” Jones. While they are at it, can the union go ahead and really get tough with its members who decide to be nuances to the teams and put a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in effect on certain crimes.

You know like, get caught with drugs and drug paraphernalia and it’s your ass? If you drive while intoxicated and you kill or injure someone severely that you no longer have a job? That if you get caught with minors and provide them liquor that you can kiss your career goodbye? In other words, the NFLPA and the league need to put penalties in place that is so scary that it scares these malcontents onto a path of the straight and narrow from day one.

The talk about cleaning up the game is all well and good but doesn’t mean nothing if serious enforcement of some tough rules with some strict penalties. In this climate of thug life and money, professional athletes these days need to be disciplined like they are seven years old.

It should be an embarrassment that grown men cannot handle business the way they need to. You can blame it on their childhood or you can blame it on their lack of parental guidance. Whatever the problem is, Pacman and the numerous others who have been in the headlines for being ‘boneheads’ need a reality check.

The league and union should have been cracking down on this behavior a decade ago. It’s better late than never but at least ‘something’ may get done.

GREED SOMETIMES LEADS TO ONE BECOMING AN AGENT So I’m skimming through my Sports Business Journal for this week and I come across an article that says the dad of Greg Oden’s best friend wants to represent the Ohio State star. I have never really liked the idea of a family member or friend of the family representing talent unless that person has the knowledge to do so.

I think about guys like Maverick Carter who represents kid pal LeBron James or the fact that Major Adams represents Vince Young and sometimes I just cringe at the thought that somebody else wants to ride on the gravy train and could possibly derail the whole thing right off the tracks. And so in reading that Mike Conley, Sr., the father of Mike Conley, Jr., a teammate and best friend of Oden is just sort of troubling to me.

Conley, Sr. is a former gold medalist in the Olympics and I’m wondering why is he willing to represent Odem and not his son? And to be honest, I can’t buy the fact that Conley was going to become an agent whether Oden was on the team or not.

Sorry, Conley but this writer thinks you are full of bull on that call. I can’t buy that tidbit of a thought process because if that were true, again, he would be representing his son and trying to get his son into the NBA.

And thus that is the problem with family members or friends’ trying to represent a star athlete is the skepticism that ensues. If there is one thing an agent should be is honest and that means he needs to be honest with himself as well.

I wish Oden and the Conley family all the luck in the world but I hope that the elder Conley is ready to truly represent a player who, in my professional opinion of seeing way too many college and pro games, is not ready for the big time just yet.

Oden is a seven footer but he isn’t Kevin Durant. Durant is closer to being in the pros than Odem and I firmly believe that both players need to stay in school one more year and get the basics down of playing the post. If any of them have to ask why, just ask Dwight Howard how hard it is being a ‘youngster’ in this league.