Category Archives: Editorial

HBCU Money™ Turns 5 Years Old


By William A. Foster, IV

In essence, I see the value of journalism as resting in a twofold mission: informing the public of accurate and vital information, and its unique ability to provide a truly adversarial check on those in power. – Glenn Greenwald

black-girls-in-class-475

Another year in the books. After a rough 2016, as it was for most of the world, HBCU Money saw its share of ups and downs and is glad to have made it to the other side. It is not enough anymore to just survive anymore, it is time for us to start striving, building, and succeeding. How we get to our destination though can often be as important as where we are going.

It is my belief and desire that HBCU Money be part of a new era in media. A new era that returns to its fundamental roots of journalism, where the desire to be first must take a backseat to being of integrity in the information we disseminate to the public. From those in media who are upstart blogs to global media companies, we all have a duty to be more than just a headline or to take a person’s words and twist them to fit our own agendas. People need a safe place to consume information, to consume different points of view, and that should be part of our duty as purveyors of information. HBCU Money will continue to be part of the landscape of integrity giving credit where it is due and presenting information that helps evolve our place in the world. There are hard questions that need to be asked, questions we may not even realize need to be asked, and much in between.

As the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of HBCU Money, it is my hope to one day to turn over the reins to someone who will take this company even further than I can dream. In the meantime, I will continue to ensure we set the proper foundation that permeates constitutional values so that everyone who comes to work here or reads our pages will feel connected and intellectually respected in everything we do. Thank you all for your support these past five years and we continue to look forward to your support going forward.

Advertisements

The 5 Steps To HBCU Athletic Profitability


game-change-photo2

“Growth and profit are a product of how people work together.” – Ricardo Semler

HBCU presidents, athletic directors, athletic commissioners, and stakeholders gather around the camp fire. We are going to tell you a story of problem solving using critical thinking. Do not worry, this is not a scary story like the one you are telling your students and alumni currently. Many of you want athletics to be your legacy and are willing to mortgage every current student and burgeoning alumni’s future in order to see it come to fruition. Many of you think so far inside the box that Carter G. Woodson would probably blush at just how far you have taken his quote of controlling a man’s mind and how that control will make a man build a back door if one is not present. We even lie to ourselves that the door we have been relegated too looks like our neighbors front door just to suffice our ego. Refusing to even use the assets at your disposal like HBCU business schools, computer science departments, etc. to solve some of our institutions most basic problems.

You know what is not a basic problem? The $147 million that the SWAC and MEAC conferences are hemorrhaging were it not for the $142.5 million in subsidies that come primarily on the backs of their students. Even with those subsidies, the two conferences still managed a $4.6 million loss in the 2014-15 school year. Yet, the same playbook is rolled out every year to makeup for shortfalls. The infamous money games that alumni argue over every year as good or bad for their programs. Ultimately, athletic departments have made them part of their funding model usually in an exchange for treatment that would make Ike Turner blush. However, there is no plan and has been no plan seemingly offered by these HBCU athletic departments that would strategically some day let the money games be icing on the cake if they chose to play them instead of a vital necessity. There is always this talk of the players on the team wanting to test themselves against the “best’. The reality is they have no choice. Players do not schedule these games nor are they consulted. These games are scheduled by those that know if they do not play them, then there may not be an athletic department next year. There are five steps though that can allow HBCU athletics to actually make every program profitable: 

  1. Form the HBCU Athletic Association. Also known as the HBCU version of the NCAA. This is about ownership and leverage. Advertisers pay for schools or conferences that have large alumni bases, strong geographic footprint, and affluent alumni. Although HBCUs lack the latter, the former two is strong leverage when you approach corporate sponsors who are looking to get their brand in front of as many potential consumers as possible. There are 100 HBCUs that comprise geography in the Midwest, Southeast, and even Northeast if you included schools like Roxbury Community College in Boston and Medgar Evers in New York. The NCAA is able to make over $1 billion per year from the March Madness Tournament because it owns the tournament. Again, ownership matters. Having the HAA gives it a powerful economic scale that could go in and do something like buy the old Morris Brown stadium and convert it to a stadium, arena, hotel, and conference center that could host all of the major HBCU sporting events. Now, instead of getting almost nothing of the pie, HBCUs would have an opportunity to share in the parking, ticket, concession, and entertainment revenue pies that ownership over these facilities brings. Again, ownership matters.
  2. Drones. Okay, not just drones, but drones, cameras affixed to athletic facilities, and a website and app that you can purchase a monthly subscription for $10 per month just like Netflix that gives access to every HBCU sporting event for your alma mater and a special up charge for Classics. All of the computer science and communication majors that HBCUs have this seems almost like spiking a beach ball for a score. Put a camera in every corner of the stadium, arena, and field so that it can be remotely operated during a game to show every team’s games. Use drones, they are $99 or build your own, to highlight special views during the games or matches. Get a website and app built that allows people to view it anywhere at anytime. For sports like football, there is an additional charge for professional scouts, which can be a whole other package – a more expensive package.
  3. Conference Endowments. This could be done tomorrow and the fact that it has not been done is sad, really. HBCUs are stronger together than apart. A lesson that Florida A&M University learned the hard way when they tried to make the jump out of the MEAC to FBS. Wherever we go we must go together. With that said, it would make so much more sense if an athletic endowment was set up for each conference that could be equitably split among all the schools. Instead of each department trying to raise money independently, they share the common expense of doing so in hopes of reaching a larger audience. Conservatively, the MEAC and SWAC need an athletic endowment of $3 billion to produce the amount needed to ween themselves off of subsidies from their student population. All those golf tournaments by HBCU boosters that each school puts on could certainly assist in the greater good more so than the robbing Peter to pay Paul model our athletic departments currently exist on. It also provides a real vision – like the church building fund – that there is a goal and this is the result of that goal.
  4. HBCU football and basketball playoffs. This ties back into number one and ownership. HBCUs are forever trying to be the Cinderella story. Moments like North Carolina A&T beating Kent State, Grambling almost beating Arizona, or Norfolk State’s run in the NCAA tournament in 2012 where they reached the Sweet 16. You know what is better than being Cinderella though, getting paid and being profitable. An HBCU football playoff and basketball tournament is an opportunity to have a postseason, hold recruitment and marketing of high school students in cities, and again, own more if not all of the revenue. An eight team playoff from the four major HBCU conferences (SIAC, CIAA, SWAC, & MEAC) that starts the week after Thanksgiving and conclude on New Year’s Day at the HAA owned Morris Brown Stadium, hotel, and conference center. The playoff games themselves could be held in major cities that are geographically and expense friendly to the conferences, but also allow for exposure and recruitment. This is true for the basketball tournament as well. A 16 team (or 32 if you want to invite HBCUs not in HBCU conferences) basketball tournament held in cities like Chicago, New York, and other major basketball hotbeds that give exposure to our schools for future recruitment and a chance to create events we own around them that generate revenue only helps the bottom line. This is not limited to just football and basketball, but every sport. Events bring us money and using HBCU playoffs extends our seasons and extends the ability for them to generate revenue from the populations the events are held in.
  5. Black Owned Company Sponsors. When one hears how much HBCUs get paid by non-black owned corporate sponsors or in their money games it is utterly insulting. How someone treats you is a clear sign of how they feel about you and it is clear that the companies we receive sponsorship from currently think very little of our alumni as potential customers. Have you ever heard of Aliko Dangonte? He is the wealthiest man in Nigeria and owner of the Dangonte Group, which has interest in cement, sugar, and flour. Ventures Africa reports, “In Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless, spent a reported $6.4 million setting up a trust for African students at Morehouse College, a historically black institution in the United States.” A sign that HBCUs are on these African entrepreneurs map. Why not approach them and their companies? The Dangonte Stadium, Arena, or Athletic Complex has a nice ring to it. It gives them an opportunity to expand their brand globally and to expand into the holy grail that is America.

Athletics is certainly an important part of the social experience of college and HBCUs, but it is not worth the burden to a people who are already trying to close a wealth gap that is sixteen times greater than their counterparts and are graduating with higher student debt loads despite HBCUs being cheaper on average. Instead of eliminating sports though or just subsidizing ourselves to death, there has to be the question of how do we make them an asset. Not just socially, but financially. There has been talk that the Power 5 conferences will eventually break away from the NCAA and super conferences come up every year in conversation. HBCUs have the opportunity to be ahead of the change curve, lead the change curve, and shift the paradigm instead of being reactive to it or simply mimicking our counterparts behavior after the fact. If we are going to be in a box, at least let it be a box we own and control.

Guy Kawasaki & Stanford Reminds African America Why HBCUs Are Needed Via Instagram


unnamed

After a crisis we tell ourselves we understand why it happened and maintain the illusion that the world is understandable. In fact, we should accept the world is incomprehensible much of the time. – Daniel Kahneman

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, then the aforementioned picture should be a thousand words about why HBCUs are African America’s best opportunity for access and opportunity. Unfortunately, the logic the past 60 plus years when a picture like this has surfaced is that African America must try harder or do better to gain access or that even presence of one or two of us is success.

The picture itself shows Guy Kawasaki, one of Apple’s early employees who is now a Silicon Valley angel investor, and an engineering class at Stanford University. Stanford is without question one of America’s premier research universities ranking eleventh with almost $1 billion annually in research expenditures. It is the university that laid the ground work for Silicon Valley itself to come into existence as well as being the environment that produced Google. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google’s co-founders, met there while studying computer science doctorates. Stanford also has one of the country’s largest endowments  with $21.4 billion – an amount that is ten times all 100 plus HBCU endowments combined just for perspective. Yet, despite this treasure trove of resources the school’s demographics (see below) do not even come close to matching the African American population in the state of California (7.2 percent) or the country (13.2 percent) as a whole.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.20.48 PM

African America does not seem to truly understand the value in investing in its own institutions as other groups seem to in their own. We often do what is best for America, while other groups do what is best for themselves. HBCUs still produce the majority of African American professionals in America. In the engineering field alone, HBCUs currently produce 40 percent of African American engineers (see below) while only constituting three percent of America’s colleges and universities. The value of these institutions is unquestionable, but that value is not marketed or conveyed consistently to African America so that the community truly understands the value and importance of the opportunities provided through the institutions existence, the opportunity they provide, and why they need more attendance and financial support from African America itself.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 5.39.09 PM

HBCUs themselves must also continue to build their programs. There are new fields of engineering to explore. Fields like bioengineering, space engineering, and other emerging engineering disciplines must be offered. HBCUs must think beyond just the basics of chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Premier HBCU engineering programs like North Carolina A&T State University (see below) truly are at the forefront of this expansion and other HBCU engineering programs must forge ahead. They must also continue to expand their research on the graduate level. Research among the top 20 HBCUs constitutes only $450 million in research expenditures, again while a university like Stanford does almost $1 billion alone. Much of the true innovation that happens in the US and around the world happens at the graduate level where the intellectual cream meets. There is no reason that the brightest minds from HBCU undergrads should have to leave the HBCU ecosystem or miss out on opportunities because our graduate schools are an after thought of leadership. We need our intellectual capital to circulate and remain within our ecosystem.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-12-03-33-am

The next Google, Facebook, or Microsoft lies within an HBCU engineering department. Perhaps it will be HBCU engineers that will help put the first African country on the moon, Mars, or beyond as they once did for NASA and America. HBCU engineering departments may come together and create our version of Silicon Valley. Whatever the future holds, as Dr. John H. Clarke said, “I am saying what ever the solution is, either we are in charge of our own destiny or we are not in charge.  On that point we got to be clear, you either free or you a slave.” A picture is worth a thousand words, but we only need to remember a few, the power to be free is in our own hands, hearts, and minds.

HBCU Money™ Turns 4 Years Old


By William A. Foster, IV

As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think. – Toni Morrison

headstart2jpg-81a6c165abdc0f97

Going into our fourth year broods us with a certain calm. HBCU Money™ continues to be a labor of love and passion. The past twelve months while not seeing the growth we expected were still progressive towards our ultimate goal of being a full service financial journalism company. Last year, we brought HBCU Politics™, a political journalism site, into our fold completely with plans to add more sites in the coming years. We believed then and we believe now that there can never be too many quality voices speaking to the eclectic interest of HBCUers around the world. Entrepreneurship is about patience and perseverance. Something we here at HM continue to exude in spades despite setbacks along the way. The HBCUpreneur Corner™ continues to highlight the growing presence of entrepreneurs coming from HBCU ranks who are no longer content at getting jobs, but creating them. Our interview last year with HBCU endowment star, The University of Virgin Islands’ executive director Dr. Haldane Davies, was another shining moment for us giving voice to HBCUs who are lesser known by the mainstream as they forge ahead building a stronger foundation for generations to come. These stories and more are the ones we will continue to tell along with the pertinent economic, financial, and investment information that is vital to our community and its growth.

It is a continued honor to serve as Editor-In-Chief of HBCU Money™ and look forward continuing to do so. There is no time to rest. Enjoy the moment. Now, let us get back to work because as our motto states “Our Money Matters”.

What If LeBron James Were A Doctor?


LeBron and Chris playing violin and singing.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. – Lorenzo Anello

Somewhere in an alternative universe a call goes out over the hospital intercom, “Paging Dr. James! Dr. James to operating room, please.” Into the operating room walks a 6’8 250 pound surgeon African American man who smiles at his surgical team, but sternly ask, “Has the patient been prepped?” The staff acknowledges to the doctor the patient has and thus the operation begins. For the next few hours it is a battle of skill, touch, and finesse. With nerves of steel it all comes down to a final cut. The doctor steps back, takes a deep breath, and goes in for the final incision. Success! The patient is responding  better than expected and the surgeon leaves the room to debrief the family. As he speaks with the family cheers and tears of rejoicing come from the crowd of family and friends gathered.

There are currently 5 005 and 1 015 African American males on college football and basketball Division 1 rosters on any given year, respectively. That means every year over 6 000 African American males believe either in the coming year or in a few years they will be eligible to become a professional athlete. The NCAA itself reports that only 1.7 percent of college football players will go on to play professionally and 1.2 percent of college basketball players will go to the NBA, respectively. That means that in any given year out of those 6 000 plus athletes, less than 100 will actually go pro. However, speaking with an ambassador at a local Division 1 program with around 100 players on their football roster just how many of his players believe they can go pro – he said at least half. Inquiring further how many really have a chance and he said maybe two. How can there be such a gulf between those two viewpoints? Warren Goldstein’s examination of William Rhoden’s book $40 Million Dollar Slaves offers us some insight, “Consequently, most black athletes lost their connection to a “sense of mission . . . of being part of a larger cause. Young athletes, in particular, dropped the thread that joins them to that struggle and became, instead, a “lost tribe,” adrift in the world of white coaches, boosters, agents, club officials, network executives — those profiting from black muscle and skill.”

African America is desperately in need of more doctors. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports there are 209 000 primary care physicians in the United States, but only 3.9 percent of that number are African American or a pinch over 8 000. An article in the Philadelphia Tribune reports, “Studies also indicate that when minority patients can select a health care professional, they are more likely to choose someone of their own racial and ethnic background.” That means at current, there is 1 African American physician for every 4 938 African Americans, but the nation as a whole has 1 physician for every 1 435 citizens in the United States. In order for African American to reach the national average, there would need to be an increase in the number of African American physicians by over 300 percent. The state of African American males in the medical field is even more acute according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education who recently reported, “A new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finds that the number of Black males who are applying to medical school has not increased since 1978. In 1978, 1 410 Black males applied to U.S. medical schools. In 2014, the figure was 1 337. In 1978, 542 Black men matriculated at U.S. medical schools, compared to 515 in 2014.”

Unfortunately, basketball and football often detour thousands of African American males (those who do manage to escape prison) from childhood where they are warped early with promises of fame and riches with even the slightest hint of athleticism. This is not to say sports can not be a valuable part of a boys’ upbringing, but we have made it their central and primary focal point. With only 2 000 available slots to fill out all NFL and NBA rosters and even with turnover the odds of these young men finding their way onto one is virtually null. However, primary care physicians and dentist comprise 350 000 positions in the country combined and unlike athletics which is not expanding its rosters or number of teams, there is actually a growing demand for more doctors and dentist in the country. As for the pay, pro-rated until age 65, an NFL player makes a median salary of $34 200 and a NBA players makes a median salary of $144 000, while a primary care physician’s median salary is $220 000. And the economic cost to the community because of the physician shortage is $4.4 billion annually in just lost opportunity wages alone. Not including the lost wages our community suffers due to illness and poor access to primary physicians. Health is wealth takes on whole new meanings.

And it is not just the medical field that is suffering from this brain dumbing (drain). At a time when there is an acute need for Civil Rights lawyers’ in African America along with entrepreneurs, farmers, technologist, psychologist, and even those who can fill a myriad of new green vocational and professional jobs on the horizon, we are ghastly underrepresented in matters of the mind and overrepresented in matters of the body. Claims that the K-12 system fails these young boys would be correct, but then again so do the parents who are largely force their sons down these paths as they too believe it is the only option. 247Sports reports, “For the typical (AAU) program that is traveling to two national tournaments and one regional tournaments the costs end up being (approximately) $1 500-$2 000 per player.” Imagine if you will though that same $1 500-$2 000 per player being spent was on supplemental education for the boys in academic development. The current public elementary and secondary spending per student in the United States is $12 401. The use of the amount spent on them traveling alone if diverted to the aforementioned supplemental education would be an increase of 12 to 16 percent in the value of the education they receive annually and may have a significant impact on increasing the abysmal high school graduation rate for African American males which is currently 59 percent. We may not have an abundance of resources, but there needs to be a discussion and critique of how we are using what we have.

The repercussions of the dumbing down of African American males is already being felt through the social fabric of our communities. African America is the only ethnicity where females outnumber males in employment. This has consequences as it relates to marriage, crime, and a host of other social issues, but we are not paying attention to the damage we are doing to our boys often until it is too late. We are hypnotized by the LeBron Jameses as being the rule for our boys instead of realizing the exception. That most of these young men with athletic aspirations will never see a professional athlete’s paycheck and if they do the career’s are often short and communal impact is zero. We can kid ourselves into thinking that these athletes bring something to our community of value, but it is just entertainment and disillusioned opportunity. Nothing more and nothing less. Meanwhile, what happens to the thousands who do not make it, who lack the skills to do anything meaningful and substantive, to become a valuable asset to the social, economic, and political fabric of the building of African America. They fall by the wayside and we pay the brutal cost as a people, but are we not entertained?

For the same amount of money we dedicate to Pop Warner athletics, if we just took half of it and put it toward “Pop Warner” academics, STEM camps, chess clubs, and other initiatives that made little black boys feel that we value their minds just as much as their bodies we would see a paradigm shift in a generation. We lay so much blame on “others” for what is happening to our boys and take very little ownership or onus on ourselves for what is happening to them. Pimping them out for decades of their life with the hope of lottery style “winnings” instead of sustainable life and community development, then look perplexed when they and our communities lack the basic infrastructure to become viable. A wise man once said never put your destiny in the hands of others, yet we continue to do so at the expense of these young boys. We maybe entertained, but we are certainly not fulfilled.