Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have some of the richest tradition among mid-majors. HBCUs are known for prestigious marching bands, dance teams, and step teams that originate from its Greek organizations. HBCUs provided African-American students a place to go back when most colleges would not accept them. The historical significance of these universities that are often underrepresented in Our Game is what has shaped their unique identity. The HBCU tradition is why EA Sports when they first expanded to include 1-AA (now FCS) teams for their American-style college football video game went with the SWAC and MEAC first, as well as the Ivy League. This tradition is also why ESPNU does a weekly broadcast from the SWAC and MEAC each week in football and basketball.
Yet the athletic performance of these universities has been subpar. The MEAC and the SWAC are often at the bottom of the RPI in basketball each year. Academically, HBCUs aren't much better either. Only a few HBCUs, most notably Howard, do not fall into the bottom tiers of university rankings. The MEAC and SWAC never faced each other in the PIG, in part because of political pressure on the NCAA to not appear to be discriminatory towards these schools. And it isn't just basketball that struggles; football (the pride of most Division I HBCUs) also usually ranks low as well.
I am white, and have never attended a HBCU. But my dad has taught at Morris College, a small HBCU that competes at the NAIA level. I want HBCUs to succeed just as any other type of school at our level. But despite segregation having finally gone away 40 years ago, a cultural disconnect remains between HBCUs and the rest of our society. This is a not an easy issue to talk about, as most matters of race aren't. But as other schools have received better funding and have been able to raise more money, HBCUs are being left behind. On the Red Line chart on this website, you can see how low the MEAC and SWAC rank in athletic budgets despite nearly all schools having the most expensive sport in American-style football. This hurts the quality of basketball in these conferences.
One can notice the problems HBCUs have by looking at their facilities. In a chat, Kyle mentioned in response to what were some of the worst arenas he had been to that some places in the SWAC looked like they were ready to fall down. While it is not about to fall down, SC State's Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center is not exactly a modern facility. The exterior looks like an old academic building with narrow hallways, and with a gym in the middle of it. The arena itself mostly features old wooden bucket seats with a small section of reserved seating and metal bleachers near the court itself. The balcony wraps around the gym in a horseshoe manner, with no seats behind the scorer's table. A curtain blocks the view of old collapsible bleachers that don't really fit in the gym anymore.
Tonight's game would be between two very different States: Georgia State of the CAA, and South Carolina State of the MEAC. Georgia State is a large commuter school in Atlanta that is trying to use its Atlanta roots to move up as a university. After years of success in the Atlantic Sun, the Colonial accepted them as part of its goal to establish itself in every major market on the East Coast. Since joining the CAA, the Panthers have not found the same success that they had in the A-Sun. This would provide the Bulldogs with an opportunity to potentially pick off an opponent from one of the top mid-major basketball conferences. Such a win would be big for the MEAC in its journey for respect.
SC State students did not really begin to arrive until about midway through the first half. Whether this was because they had other places to be on campus on a Tuesday night, or because they thought there was another women's game running late (there wasn't) I am not sure. But by the time most students arrived, their Bulldogs were out of it. After trading baskets early, GSU would make a 4 point play going into the first media timeout to take the lead for good. Defensively SC State could not match up well with the Panthers. The Bulldogs could not collapse on the penetration of the Panthers effectively, and Georgia State made its shots from outside as well. Georgia State scored 3 points for every 2 possessions used in the first half, and would lead 51-27 at halftime. The Panthers would continue to cruise in the second half to win 85-54. This would be GSU's largest margin of victory ever on the road.
While there have been successes such as Coppin State and Hampton upsetting 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, too often we see games like tonight where the HBCU struggles against stronger competition. While a loss was not totally unexpected for SC State, the margin was very much unexpected especially for a team playing at home. Despite having a better tradition and following than many schools in Our Game, HBCUs face some of the toughest challenges among us.
GEORGIA STATE 85, at SOUTH CAROLINA STATE 54 11/29/2011
GEORGIA STATE 4-3 (0-0) -- B. Frazier 3-9 1-4 8; D. White 6-9 1-1 17; J. Fields 4-7 0-0 8; E. Buckner 9-11 3-7 21; J. Micheaux 1-3 1-2 3; J. Ali 4-9 0-0 10; T. Kimbro Jr. 3-5 0-1 6; R. Richardson 4-9 1-1 12; J. Vincent 3-5 2-2 8; B. McGee 0-5 0-0 0; K. Shaw 0-1 0-0 0; T. Gamble 0-0 0-0 0; R. Green 0-1 0-0 0; J. Taylor 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-66 8-14 85. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE 4-3 (0-0) -- K. Toombs 5-15 1-2 12; B. Riley 9-18 0-0 22; P. Bell 1-6 1-3 3; J. Ikhinmwin 0-1 0-0 0; L. Radovic 1-4 0-2 2; D. Joint 0-1 2-4 2; S. Barber 1-5 0-0 3; O. Sanders 1-6 0-0 2; A. Martin 2-4 0-0 6; D. Wooten 0-0 2-4 2. Totals 20-60 6-15 54.
Three-point goals: GSU 9-21 (B. McGee 0-3; J. Ali 2-2; R. Richardson 3-8; D. White 4-5; R. Green 0-1; T. Kimbro Jr. 0-1; K. Shaw 0-1), SCST 8-23 (K. Toombs 1-5; S. Barber 1-3; B. Riley 4-8; O. Sanders 0-2; D. Joint 0-1; A. Martin 2-4); Rebounds: GSU 42 (E. Buckner 8), SCST 32 (P. Bell 6); Assists: GSU 17 (D. White 6), SCST 7 (K. Toombs 6); Total Fouls -- GSU 14, SCST 10; Fouled Out: GSU-None; SCST-None.