HBCU Alcorn State is supposed to play South Alabama State on ESPN3 on Saturday at 7 pm, live from Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
According to sources affiliated with the school, Alcorn will make $360,000 just for showing up to what is expected to be a beatdown.
But they might not be able to get the paycheck because Alcorn, as of this time on Thursday, still didn’t have an athletic trainer and the university is using the excuse that it’s a “resource issue.”
Blowing The Bag
Alcorn State does not have any full-time athletics trainers. The program has used part-time trainers this season. This would be the third game of the season and rumor has it there’s potential player-revolt developing.
Alcorn head coach Fred McNair, brother of the late great Alcorn State and NFL quarterback Steve, pretty much said that the kids haven’t been able to hold a full practice all week and they are frustrated. McNair made it clear that this was a university issue that was above his head.
He threw Alcorn State President M. Christopher Brown II under the bus and let it be known on his weekly radio show that he wants a solution from the administration ASAP.
“We got a big game (at South Alabama) that’s going to make the university money, and we can’t go out and get treatment for the young men and women,” McNair told FootballScoop. “We can’t get treatment or rehab on this day, not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Alcorn State football could not practice Monday and had to have a walk-through Tuesday, because the school did not have an athletic trainer on campus. Here are Fred McNair's strong comments on WPRL 91.7 about the situation. @WJTV pic.twitter.com/xGp58hsvOu
— Blake Levine (@blake_levine) September 14, 2021
Penny Pinching Or Incompetance?
Certified athletic trainers are required to be on-site at games and at practice per NCAA rules in the event of injury or treatment needed for student-athletes.
What makes this situation even worse is that Alcorn State is expected to haul in a $360,000 pay day if they play the game.
Refusing to spend the money needed to have a full-time trainer because of frugality — which in turn blows a six-figure pay day — is what we call hustling backward.
Some student-athletes call it sabotage and nobody in the school’s front office is willing to speak about the situation publicly.
According to sources affiliated with the SWAC conference, players were threatening to stage a boycott because they recognize that they don’t have adequate staff to cover them in case of injury.
Issues such as these are common at HBCUs, where resources and funding are low and the money allocated to them from the state for advanced educational programs often pales in comparison to that awarded to predominantly white institutions.
This lack of funds often leads to corners getting cut and player safety being compromised. This is obviously one of those examples.
If the players did decide to boycott the game, it wouldn’t be the first time an HBCU team had to go to these measures to bring attention to the underserved conditions they face.
Grambling Football Boycott
This might morph into one of those revolts like the one they had at Grambling back in 2013.
Grambling’s players staged a weeklong boycott, even forfeiting the game against Jackson State, because of many issues with university leaders, including the school’s deteriorating facilities, long bus trips to road games, and questionable decisions.
Grambling President Frank Pogue didn’t punish the players, instead, he recognized their disgruntled voices as needed to help publicize the funding plight for historically black colleges and universities like Grambling.
Everybody Isn’t Eating
Eight years and a Deion Sanders later and it’s getting better, but overall these universities have a long way to go.
“That’s where we are right now and if they don’t play the game for whatever reason, they will be missing out on a lot of money. They will either have to pay $360,000 or they just miss out on a bag they desperately need — especially if they can’t afford a trainer,” said HBCU reporter Mark Gray.
“You know the saying: ‘If all the best Black players would come back to Black schools …’ Well, here’s an example of why they don’t.”
Staffing issues aren't new at Alcorn State.
Sources say the team opted out of the spring season because players didn’t feel comfortable with the lack of training staff, not because of COVID as the school said. Alcorn had won two straight SWAC titles.https://t.co/2udAB3IRGf
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 14, 2021
Alcorn State is no slouch program. In addition to producing some legendary NFL players over the years, the school has been on a roll.
“You gotta understand … this is an Alcorn State program that has won, like, six straight SWAC West Division Championship, and I think they have won three championships in six years. They have represented in the Celebration Bowl the last few years and made $1.5 million because the payout to the school is $500,000 for that game.”
Making matters worse is the fact that, per USA Today, Alcorn State University spent just shy of $25,000 over four years on gifts for public officials. Of that, $19,500 was in free tickets.
“So how you can’t find $50K for a full-time trainer?” Gray asks. “Even if that person has to do every sport it can be worked out,” Gray insisted.
As far as the game on Saturday goes, it’s still currently scheduled to be played, although there’s no update on the trainer situation.