HBCU Pro Coaches Impact Football

FILE - In this April 13, 2021, file photo, New Tennessee State University NCAA college football coach Eddie George smiles during a news conference in Nashville, Tenn.. George is one of several high-profile former pro athletes to take on athletic programs at black colleges and universities at a time when the country seems more than ready. (George Walker/The Tennessean via AP, File)

NASHVILLE (AP) — Eddie George picked a good time for a career change. He’s one of several highprofile former pro athletes to give up their lavish retirement lifestyles, roll up their sleeves and accept historically Black colleges and universities coaching positions at a time when the country seems ready to embrace social change. Television networks, which already had contracts with the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, now have new storylines thanks to coaches who bring name recognition and a known brand to the sidelines. There are at least 13 former pro athletes coaching football or men’s basketball at an HBCU, with seven hired since 2019. The star-studded group includes Deion Sanders at Jackson State; former NBA champion Mo Williams at Alabama State; 11-year NFL veteran Sean Gilbert at Livingstone College; and Bonzi Wells just hired at LeMoyne-Owen. “It’s high risk, high reward,” SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland said. “The biggest challenge that high-profile coaches have to deal with coming to historically Black colleges and universities is that those resources that they are accustomed to are not necessarily there all the time.” Many of the high-profile coaches earned tens of millions in salary during the pro careers and now are working in athletic departments operating on a fraction of those dollars. George, being paid $400,000 a year, says it’s a calling for him to be coaching at an HBCU. He didn’t have to relocate to take the job at Tennessee State, which is where he first practiced when the thenHouston Oilers relocated from Texas to Tennessee. “You want to enhance that world and bring a light to the HBCU world and the great storied programs that have produced NFL talent and great talent into the world, period,” George said. “That comes along with it. But at its core, at its impetus, it’s always first and foremost these young men that are in this building.”

Load comments