I can remember graduating from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Dallas, Texas in 1991. I spent a couple of weeks working on my game getting ready to attend West Virginia University. I was a bit nervous to be so far away from home, but I’m not a kid anymore. I am a man. Packing up my stuff and getting suitcases ready for school, I became a bit reluctant knowing that I’m leaving my brother and sisters in Dallas. I was ready for the next step in my life by going off to college. I can remember my mother saying, “Be good and be careful son!” That would ring in my ears the whole time I was in college a million miles away. My coaches, teachers, pastors and people that knew I was going to college warned me about the traps and snares of college life.
I was recruited to play baseball and basketball. Mind you, I only played a few games in high school but I was known for basketball. When your the big man on campus in high school, you become the little man on the college campus, so you have to learn the ropes and make friends with people all over the country and the world. We argue that college athletics, as it intersects with the educational and life outcomes of black male athletes, is in crisis. This crisis is evident in many ways, including the prevalence of once-aspiring professional black male athletes who end up with no degree, few job prospects, and used-up eligibility. Our educational system, and indeed our society, has failed these young people. One of the ways this manifests is in the low graduation rates for African American men’s basketball players. Only 65 percent of African American basketball student-athletes graduated in 2013. There is a 25-percent gap between the graduation rates of white and black basketball/football student-athletes. Further, 21 of the 68 teams to compete in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament had black graduation rates below 50 percent. Football is at 35 percent.
I’m watching the ESPN and Fox Sports South West and the ticker on the bottom of the screen is filled with black athletes in trouble stemming from assault with a deadly weapon, theft, rape and drug use. These kids are leaving neighborhoods all over the country to play football and obtain a college education. So far, that’s not happening. Countless athletes are being kicked out of school for dumb decisions. We know the head coaches can’t watch 70 kids at one time, but there should be order in college sports. I’m sure that the parents of these kids don’t put aside a “Get Out Of Jail” fund for their kids.