Deion Sanders held his first press conference as head football coach at the University of Colorado at Boulder on Sunday, and everyone has something to say.
CU announced the move Saturday night — a deal that would give Sanders $29.5 million over five years.
Sanders thrilled fans two years ago when it was announced he would coach Jackson State University, leading the HBCU to a record-breaking season.
His decision to join JSU was not only seen as an achievement for the university. This was seen as a victory for black schools in general.
The Ringer said his coaching work made the school “the best history in college football”, which “turned college sports upside down”, in large part because of Sanders’ ability to attract the best prospects in an HBCU.
The Athletic named Deion Sanders Sportsperson of the Year last week, noting that Sanders has raised “the visibility of football played at historically black colleges and universities, some of which are in dire need of support.”
Some people thought Sanders had done what he needed to do and moved on to reasonably lucrative work. A very, very lucrative job.
There were also nuanced opinions about his departure from the HBCU.
And there have been some scathing reviews, like an essay by Deadspin writer Carron Phillips who said Sanders isn’t determined to elevate HBCUs overall, despite the praise he’s received. “Sanders didn’t care about improving HBCUs,” he wrote. “He cared about making whoever paid him better – until he could turn that into a better opportunity for himself and his sons in a PWI.”
“Did the Tougaloo College athletic department budget have a surplus that we haven’t heard of because of Sanders? Or how about Fort Valley State University? Morehouse College?” Phillips continued. “Or any of the other 106 HBCUs in this country that didn’t have Sanders on the payroll?
Writer Jesse Washington also criticized the decision before noting that it made sense, acknowledging the wider social implications: “The sense of abandonment is amplified because it always seems to happen that way. Since America’s reluctant integration, black talent and resources (and in sports, talent is the greatest resource) have been systematically transferred from our institutions to white people. The result in black colleges, newspapers, law firms, record labels, etc., is less self-sufficiency of the black community and more of the false perception that black and black-led people are second order.
Whichever camp you fall into, it’s clear that Sanders has a challenge ahead of him at UC, which Washington says has had just two winning seasons since 2005, when less than 3% of its most of 36,000 students are black.
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