Expanding the knowledge

By Fred Whitted
Updated: January 6, 2011

NORTH CAROLINAThis is the first of a series of four editions of the Black College Sports Encyclopedia (BCSE) that will document the history of each of the four major HBCU athletic conferences.

The BCSE has been published since the late 1980s.

It began as the Stat-Pak which was a listing of the statistical leaders from HBCUs. That was followed by the Black College Sports Answer Book which answered pertinent questions about Black college sports.

Our early goal was to provide pertinent information for those broadcasting Black college sporting events. Typically, those announcers who were not from HBCUs tended to talk about other schools while leaving out the rich history of HBCUs, their coaches and athletes.

After a conversation with Eric “The Guru” Moore, founder of the Onnidan Group, who was providing statistical services BET and other media that carried HBCU sporting events, things were set in motion to put together a few pages of information that could be used.

The first documents were about 12 pages each. They continued to grow, as did the expense of printing them. So, in 1989, the two were joined to form the BCSE. The following year, we connected with the late John McLendon.

At the time, he was leading efforts to establish the HBCU Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame. This information was used to establish a scoring system as a method of objectively inducting potential members of the Hall of Fame.

The death of Coach McLendon unfortunately ended that effort, but, the BCSE lived on. As of 2005, the decision was made to publish on alternating years. That was done in 2006 and again in 2008.

As we began preparing for the 2010 edition, it was recognized that other than the pictorial history of the CIAA that was published by Argle Whitfield, and, the History of the SIAC published in 1990 by the late James Hawkins, there were no up to date history of any HBCU conferences. So, it was decided that since the MEAC was about to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, we would begin with the MEAC.

Using available resources, efforts were launched to document the history of the newest of the HBCU conferences. To date, the first draft is nearly complete. At this point it is a matter of filling in some blanks and collecting photos.

Thanks to Black news papers from that era we have been able to put our hands on a lot of information. We have also talked to a number of persons who were part of the building blocks of the conference.

We will have a document that will exceed 400 pages. There will be more than 1000 photographs included in this book. Our schedule for the release of the book is July 2011.

Things have been set up to allow us to cover events through the 40th MEAC Basketball Tournament. At that point, we will have the full forty years of the conference in place. It will include coaches and athletes who have made the MEAC great.

As previously mentioned, this is part of a series. We have been working to separate the information that we have collected on the various conferences over the years. Because most schools produce media guides for football and basketball, we have the most information on those sports.

We have put most of that in place for the SWAC, just as we did for the MEAC. That information, combined with our collections of more than 4,000 digital and hard-copy photographs, will allow us to produce a book of over 400 pages.

While this will require assistance from the individual schools and the conference, it will result in having a solid reference document on the history of the SWAC. This goes back to the efforts of the HBCU Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame.

We have seen the football portion well address via the Black College Football Hall of Fame and the Black College Football On-Line Museum. We are providing much needed information that will aid in having as much documented history as possible for future generations to continue what has been started.

At present, we have the first documents nearly complete and ready for production. Following the same format, we will release special edition for the SWAC in November 2011. It will cover the 90-year history of the SWAC.

From that point, the focus will move to documenting the history of the CIAA and the SIAC, the two oldest HBCU athletic conferences. Both will celebrate their 100th anniversaries in 2012 and 2013. The plan calls for a two volume set to be done on each conference.

Fortunately, both conferences have had books done on them. Still, we will use the available resources to thoroughly cover the rich history of both conferences.

All of these projects will coincide with a number of things that will be done through our website. Working from our archival collection, we will be providing not only coverage of HBCU sports, we will also highlight Black college alumni.

Also included will be our Black History Boot Camp and the Quiz Bowl Challenge.

All of this will help to systematically teach Black history to the masses.

We will continue working with churches and community organizations to teach young people our history. We will continue to work to help document local history in communities across the country.

As part of all that we do, we have planned ways of giving back. We have developed a way to fund these projects in a way that one funds the next project. While we are seeking sponsorships, we have not waited for that to manifest.

We have been committed to this task for more than two decades. From where we are today, we can finally have a comprehensive history of each of our major athletic conferences by the summer of 2014.

A portion of the profits from the total project will be set aside to endow scholarships to the schools that are part of these conferences. A separate foundation will be established to manage that aspect of things.