Cheryl Miller has become the head coach of the Langston women's basketball team. This move signals the beginning of a new trend in athletics at HBCU's. I had been hoping that this would happen, and now it finally has. She is joining Mike Garrett, who is the Athletic Director at Langston, a position he previously held at the University of Southern California. So, Langston, now has the leadership and experience to quickly become an athletic and financial powerhouse.
The athletic talents of African American college students are generating hundreds of millions of dollars of income each year. However, only a small portion of these funds go to the smaller, mostly African-American colleges. The most successful African-American coaches are all working for the larger universities. That is understandable, although regrettable.
Cheryl Miller's incredible background will allow her to recruit many of the best female high school basketball players in the world. She has been on NCAA championship teams, and she has won an Olympic gold medal. She is a successful television broadcaster. With all of her outstanding accomplishments, it seems reasonable and logical that she will be able through recruiting many of the world's top basketball players to join her at Langston.
Assuming her team has a winning record, or is the champion of its league, it will be automatically invited to the NCAA Championship Tournament. The schools that participate in this event are handsomely paid. So they get both the exposure and the money, how sweet is that? We can expect in very short order that the Langston Lady Lions will be competing against the likes of University of Connecticut, Notre Dame, Baylor and Duke.
Just imagine that, if back in the 70s, if John Thompson had been hired to coach at Howard University. Think of all of the revenue that they would have received from those sold out games, the paraphernalia that was sold, and from the money that they received from the television broadcasts. The situation was a little bit different back then, because the NCAA Selection Committee may not have invited them to play in the tournament. However, that rule no longer exists; if you can win, then you can get in.
All of the HBCU's are desperately short of funds. The sports of basketball and volleyball could help to relieve some of the financial pressure that they face. I do not see how these small schools can ever be competitive playing college football. The teams are much larger and they require a much greater financial investment. So, my opinion, their sweet spots are basketball and volleyball.
Please allow me to take a moment and share with you some of my experiences with respect to the University of Notre Dame. I was employed by a man, who had received his engineering degrees from Notre Dame. He loved the school, and he worshiped their football teams. Occasionally, we would have a meeting with one of his customers, who had also graduated from Notre Dame. They would discuss the many ways that each of them supported that University. As a Trojan, it was boring for me to listen to them, but I did not have a choice.
The president of a company with 2500 employees told us that he had seen a great high school football player, and when he checked with Notre Dame, he found out they had not heard about him. So, he sent them some information, and some videotapes of his prospect. They were extremely interested, and they began to recruit him. The student was living with his mother, who was a single parent. The president of this company encouraged her to send him to Notre Dame. He also told her that if her son actually enrolled at Notre Dame, he would hire her as a full-time clerk in his company. Her son did enroll there, played on the football team and graduated with honors.
I do not think that anyone at the University of Notre Dame knew about this, although if they had, I don't think they would have discouraged him. The point that I am trying to make is that, whenever possible, we ought to enroll our talented athletes at HBCU's. Wouldn't it be just great, absolutely sensational, if the Langston Lady Lions won the NCAA championship? Cheryl Miller can do that, and if all of us help, she can do it sooner than later.
If Langston University is as successful as it should be, then they can inspire and help the other HBCU's to emulate them. I am going to buy a Langston jacket, and I hope that you will call Daniel Garrett, the Langston Sports Information Director, at telephone number 405-466-3262, and become a member of the Langston Internet Alumni.