Here’s a number – 2,000. That’s how many donors we need this fall to stay on track. Can we count on you?
Pay to play: More HBCUs are being paid to take on powerhouse football teams
Share Now on:
College football means big bucks for big powerhouse schools across the country. This year, there has been a rise in the number of smaller programs at historically Black universities getting in on the money game.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does not have a history of putting historically Black colleges and universities on its football schedule. But this year, it did, kicking off the season against Florida A&M University.
They also invited FAMU’s famous band, The Marching 100.
HBCU football teams are, across the board, smaller in size and have fewer resources than those in the Power 5 conferences. So why would they play? One reason is money. UNC paid FAMU $450,000 to play this game.
“A great opportunity, nationally televised game,” Simmons said. “And we’ve told our guys, this isn’t a quote, unquote ‘money game,’ this is a get money game.”
FAMU joined several other HBCUs on predominately white football schedules this season. Historically Black Bethune-Cookman University played the Miami Hurricanes and Alabama State played UCLA in California. The guarantee payment for Alabama State was $590,000.
“We’re starting to have those conversations, we’re talking about Black Lives Matter,” said Raja Rahim, an assistant professor of African American history at Appalachian State University who researches sports. “But then that larger umbrella comes in these notions of this new conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion, and how do we continue to level the playing field.”
Rahim said one way to level the playing field is for large, predominately white football programs to pay more.
“So if I am thinking about the millions of dollars that a predominately white institution is making off of these money games, I don’t think a $450,000 pay out is fair,” Rahim said.
In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes UNC, paid each school $36.1 million from TV revenue. Big Ten schools got even more.
FAMU graduate Kellie McCorvey cheered on the Rattlers with family and friends. She’s glad her alma mater got to dance on the big stage.
“I think for a long time it was like the predominately white universities were so much better and your only entre into the NFL,” McCorvey said. “But HBCUs have been shining recently.”
But the shine may not show on the scoreboard. UNC beat Florida A&M 56 to 24.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.