On NCAA Sanctions, Here’s What the Alabama A&M Community Should Learn from Trump Supporters

Alabama A&M University recently received a slate of sanctions from the NCAA on issues with athlete certification throughout several of its men’s teams. The penalties include scholarship losses, postseason bans, vacated wins, fines, and recruitment restrictions.

In Huntsville, media and community members see the penalties as a big deal and a potential death-blow for Bulldog athletics. But the AAMU community should consider a larger picture emerging around concepts of news, information, and truth.

Ignore all of it and support the school. Because Donald Trump supporters are running the country doing just that.

Analyzing the disparate treatment of HBCUs by the NCAA in its monitoring and compliance culture wouldn’t change the danger of black colleges’ relationships with the association. The heart of what creates the Division I blues for HBCUs is found in one paragraph in the NCAA’s decision letter to Alabama A&M officials.

The prevalence of certification violations in recent cases concerns the COI. This is the eleventh case since 2016 in which the COI concluded certification violations. See North Carolina Central University (2018); Morgan State; Grambling State University (2017); Mississippi Valley State University (2017); Morehead State University (2017); Southern; Alcorn State University (2016); Campbell University (2016); Norfolk State University (2016); and Samford University (2016). The panel reiterates and emphasizes that appropriate certification is an expectation of Division I membership.

Eight HBCUs in the last two years have faced similar compliance issues with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. They are united by one common theme; not cheating to be a national powerhouse, not tangled relationships with boosters and agents looking to exploit athletes for cash and not allegiance to billions circulating within the NCAA to finance TV and licensing deals which only benefit the richest of its member schools.

No, the HBCUs are united by the ravaging impact of low-resources. Well-intentioned and capable HBCU athletic professionals are hampered by unqualified forced hires or inherited staff and outdated technology; symptoms of what happens when you can’t afford better talent or tools to play by NCAA rules.

And every possible bad outcome associated with these factors is aggressively pursued by the NCAA for its “law and order” approach to balance out power conferences getting away with everything from arranged sex for recruits to fake classes and grades for students.

A lack of resources is nothing new for HBCUs, but stakeholders withdrawing support and criticizing schools for perceived incompetence is something newly amplified on social platforms. The critique leads to largely misunderstood and mischaracterized campus issues becoming wastelands in the eyes of athletes, students, donors and companies who might want to boost their own prospects by aligning with our campuses.

Trump supporters don’t take these steps. They all know that the president is an uninformed, racist liar with a propensity to act against the better qualities of presidential politics and party lines. And they will step over and around every clear sign of his lack of fitness for office to champion a Supreme Court nomination, a spending bill, cuts to healthcare and tax reform.

And even though the base may be shrinking, sidestepping Trump nonsense has become an exercise in how to galvanize influence and resources. People who can’t stand him back him to thwart the permanent destruction of the Republican party. People who love him back him to advance ideas of killing off American political correctness, minimizing spending and slashing social and economic regulations.

HBCU stakeholders have this approach, but grow it through more silent means. HBCU giving and enrollment is growing. When surveyed, HBCU graduates say that their experiences on campuses made their lives better at greater rates than those of black graduates of predominantly white universities. And HBCU students are growing more distrustful of the media which for generations has misrepresented institutional struggle.

But HBCUs need more in the way of public advocacy, especially when campuses are under attack in media and public narratives. Trumpism has shown us that loud and wrong is just as effective as silently supportive, if not moreso if Trump’s $88 million 2020 presidential campaign war chest total from this summer is any indicator.

What if attacks on HBCUs yielded similar insulation from our stakeholders instead of public critique and divestment? With this mentality, would students have taken over Howard’s A building? Would Morgan State’s president or Florida A&M’s board still be in leadership?

Would AAMU football be in the spotlight?

Dozens of people are willing to come on cable news networks daily to sign their names and careers away in defense of Donald Trump, regardless of how foolish they may sound or how unbelievable their claims become as a result of the president’s own sabotage.

Can black people, specifically those earning or who have earned degrees from HBCUs take similar positions for their schools and their missions?

Or is it time for us to admit that we are less strategic, less passionate, and less hopeful about our schools than 32 percent of voters are in defending the worst president in American history?