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HBCU’s struggling to survive

February 21, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As a record-setting superstar quarterback at Grambling State, Doug Williams enjoyed all the glory and fame that goes with being a shark swimming in a kiddie pool.

As a head coach at his alma mater, Williams lived in the underbelly. He saw downtrodden facilities and budgets squeezed for the very last dollar, universities trying as hard to survive as to compete.

He left his alma mater last season for a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Williams’ heart and passion still lies with the plight of the HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). The first black quarterback to start in a Super Bowl and win the game’s MVP, Williams knows all about overcoming hurdles, but he has come to believe that HBCUs are too busy shouting into the wind about what they aren’t instead of figuring out how to maximize what they are.

“You have to recognize who you’re competing against,” he said. “With talks of bowl games and NCAA Tournaments, we’re not going to compete for that anymore. You can’t say whether it’s good or bad, because it is what it is. You can’t change it so you may as well embrace who you are.”

That, however, is not easy to do at universities exhausted from uphill battles.


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