NFL Hall of Famer Deion “Prime Time” Sanders is nearing his last straw of witnessing the disparities between HBCU football programs and those of Division I schools.
Sanders is the current head football coach of the Jackson State University Tigers in Jackson, Mississippi. Since taking on the role in September 2020, Sanders has voiced concerns about the lack of NFL draftees from HBCUs.
The latter especially hits home for the Florida native, who enjoyed a pro sports income while still in college after he was drafted by the New York Yankees and played minor league baseball the summer going into his senior year at Florida State.
In a tweet sent out June 11, Sanders wrote, “Seeing 1 of my lineman getting dressed in the locker room for work after a tough 7:15am workout/ strength, conditioning & class. Now he’s headed to put in 6 hours on the clock at his job brought tears to my eyes as I walk away from him. HBCU’s need COST OF ATTENDANCE! #CoachPrime”
In January 2015 the Power 5 — Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC) — passed legislation approving scholarships to cover the cost of athletes’ school attendance. The move was accompanied by a $2,000-$4,0000 stipend for athletes to cover the cost of living. Those more than five dozen schools enjoy financial resources to compensate athletes that far smaller schools like Jackson State and other HBCUs don’t have.
Last April, the NCAA agreed to a proposal allowing athletes to legally profit off their likenesses, business deals, and personal appearances. That same month Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed off on legislation granting the state’s athletes the chance to capitalize on profit-making opportunities.
Sanders’ tweet provoked an array of responses ranging from college should be free, players who also have jobs are better prepared, etc.
For Sanders, his players’ well-being means everything to him.
“It’s up to me to go out there and challenge myself to go out there and get some of these endorsements so these kids can be compensated for their image and likeness,” he said.