How the CIAA, SIAC Put the NCAA On the Clock to Protect Black Athletes, Paul Quinn Goes Digital for the Fall, and Delaware State to Buy Another College

CIAA, SIAC Suspend Fall Sports

In an era of social distancing and racial awakening, two of the nation’s historically black collegiate athletic conferences worked together to send tremors through the power structure of college sports.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference jointly announced that they care enough about black athletes, coaches, and fans to suspend all fall sports and championships for a possible springtime debut.

"The CIAA and SIAC both appreciate and understand the significant impact that today’s announcements had in regard to the status of 2020 Fall sports. Both the CIAA and SIAC enjoy athletic-related events, traditions, and rivalries that date back over one-hundred years.  However, in light of the increased health and safety risks confronting much of the country, today the CIAA and SIAC affirm that the welfare of our student-athletes is sacrosanct and must preempt all other considerations when evaluating any return to competition efforts."

It is the kind of courage that apparently is advanced higher learning for most predominantly white leagues and schools around the country which, even in the midst of infection cases rising well beyond numbers seen at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, insist that black athletes continue preparing to risk their health to help them make millions of dollars in revenues for the upcoming season or to appease southern-fried, mask-rejecting political will.

Beyond the surface level idea of caring for black bodies beyond money or political gamesmanship, the CIAA and SIAC just turned the literal fortunes of dozens of cities and towns throughout the south who depend on HBCU athletic contests, specifically homecomings, as a tourism revenue booster every fall. Every governor who refused to mandate mask-wearing or who reopened economies too quickly has forced HBCU conferences to pledge protection for black people from rampant COVID-19 outbreaks.

And that protection will come at a hefty price of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact snatched away from HBCU communities. Atlanta won’t go out of business because SpelHouse homecoming is canceled, but Fairfield, Ala., home of Miles College, went bankrupt two months before this announcement will definitely feel the pain — and the same could be true for many other cities within CIAA and SIAC geographic footprints.

Politics and money aside, we have to admire the courage of the moment for two sports leagues — 25 HBCUs — coordinating the messaging, timing, and planning of a massive sports suspension in the face of growing racial, political and public health challenges. In most of their respective states, the actions of these leaders are overt resistance to public pressure from the White House to statehouses and HBCU fans in between. Despite that pressure, these Division II public and private HBCUs in different locales throughout the south with varying levels of political and cultural pressure around them decided that black lives matter more than anything else at stake for the upcoming season or school year.

It makes you wonder, if 25% of the entire sector could work together to postpone an athletic season, what else could they do in commitment to working together? Build larger endowments? Create research enterprises? Leave the NCAA and start their own leagues?

Paul Quinn to Remain Online for Fall Semester

Paul Quinn College will not return students and faculty to campus for the fall semester, joining Wiley College and Hampton University on the list of private HBCUs citing public health concerns as catalysts for the decisions.

In a letter to the campus community, PQC President Michael Sorrell announced several new initiatives for the college, including a reduced tuition rate for the fall semester, new honors college and urban scholars programs, free laptops and WiFi hotspot connections for all students, and the school’s entry into an HBCU eSports league.

“Quinnites, we understand that this is a time of great uncertainty and unrest. However, as an institution, we have known uncertainty before, and the mistakes people make when facing difficult moments like these,” wrote Sorrell. “This is why we feel confident in our plan and the choice we are offering you. This choice will define much of what your life will look like from this moment forward. You can continue to trust the process that we have established for you, maintain your enrollment for the fall, and be rewarded for doing so. Or, you can yield to the siren call of others who do not share our long-term vision of greatness for you, but certainly offer you the illusion of safety and short-term solutions. We hope that you will choose wisely.”

Delaware State to Acquire Wesley College

Delaware State University will expand its campus geography with the acquisition of private liberal arts school Wesley College.

According to officials, the acquisition meets the cultural missions of DSU and Wesley, a federally-designated Minority Serving Institution, in providing educational access and cultural development for Delaware.

“Despite so much uncertainty on many fronts nationally, this is a unique opportunity for the University and the State of Delaware. The time for bold innovation for young people is now, particularly for students who have made it to college by sheer determination against sometimes enormous odds,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen. “Acquiring a college like Wesley, which serves a very similar student base, boasts strong academic programs, and brings sustained economic impact to Downtown Dover and Kent County, is a significant step closer to our broader vision – a substantively diverse, contemporary and unapologetically Historically Black College or University (HBCU).”

According to the agreement, DSU will have to secure the campus through funding outside of its current budget and will coordinate with Wesley on the transfer of its current vendor and finance obligations.

The acquisition of the school is expected to be completed by June 2021.