Amid NFL Social Justice Payout Controversy, Donations to HBCUs Hang in the Balance

Players at the center of a heated negotiation with the NFL are at odds about the league’s commitment to social justice, but historically black colleges with glaring financial need may suffer if the deal falls apart.

Slate Magazine reports on the growing rift between members of the NFL Players Coalition, who are publicly dissatisfied with a deal allegedly brokered by Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins against the wishes of other coalition members. San Francisco 49ers defensive back Eric Reid accuses the league of using the proposed $89 million donation to several social justice-themed organizations as a way of stopping player pre-game protests, built upon plans to use funds from existing service ideas to redirect to the social justice initiative.

“In the discussion that we had, Malcolm conveyed to us—based on discussions that he had with the NFL—that the money would come from funds that are already allocated to breast cancer awareness and Salute to Service,” Reid said in an interview with Slate. “So it would really be no skin off the owners’ backs: They would just move the money from those programs to this one.”

“We didn’t agree with that, because we weren’t trying to cut other worthy programs,” he added, discussing his and other players’ decision, announced on Wednesday, to leave the Players Coalition. “They moved forward anyways.”

Among those potential social justice targets? The United Negro College Fund.

The agreement calls for national funds to be allocated accordingly: 25 percent to the United Negro College Fund; 25 percent to Dream Corps; and 50 percent to the Players Coalition, which has filed 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) paperwork for nonprofit status as a fiscally sponsored project. This week, the coalition hired The Hopewell Fund to oversee and advise the group, which hopes to work with grass-roots and nonprofit organizations.