September 8, 2021

The Top HBCUs in Athletics

Cody Blanc

In the early 1900s, sports were growing at predominantly white schools, but at those schools there were very few black athletes recruited. Sports have a relatively young, but exciting tenure at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. One of the many things that sets HBCUs apart from predominantly white institutions, or PWIs, is the vibrant social life and the camaraderie that comes from being surrounded by those who share your culture and life experiences. Sports teams in general thrive off of close bonds, and athletics at HBCUs reflect what true brother/sisterhoods can do on the court, and in the field. Athletes looking to attend an HBCU to advance their sports careers may want to consider one of the following schools for either the high quality of their overall athletics programs or the success rate of a particular team.

#1: Grambling State University

Meta: Grambling State University football team.
Source: Grambling State University

Grambling is a public HBCU in Grambling, Louisiana. It’s a Division 1 (D1) school, meaning that it has more elaborate athletic facilities, bigger budgets for athletics, and more athletic scholarships than other schools. While Grambling is far from being the only D1 HBCU, the school has produced over 100 NFL hall of famers, a testament to the caliber of their training and their commitment to success. 

For men, GSU offers football, baseball, track and field, basketball, and cross country. Women can take part in basketball, bowling, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

#2: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Meta: NCAT volleyball team.
Source: NCAT Aggies

NCAT has a reputation for being a STEM and business school, but did you know that they’re also a D1 school? NCAT and its sports teams, better known as ‘The Aggies,’ are members of the Big South conference. This HBCU, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, offers baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and track and field for men. For women, NCAT offers basketball, bowling (which is in the MEAC conference), cross country, golf, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. To add, NCAT has a number of notable athletic alumni, including Chicago Bears Pro Bowler Tarik Cohen, NFL Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, and Buffalo Bills defensive end Darryl Johnson.

#3: Howard University

Meta: Howard University track and field.
Source: Howard University Athletics

Howard is one of the most prestigious HBCUs for good reason. It ranks high on the list of the best post-secondary institutions in the country, period, coming in at #80 on US News & Report’s 2021 list of the best national universities. But Howard’s athletic teams, much like the rest of the school, are on another level in terms of quality. Howard has 21 NCAA-sponsored sports teams which span three conferences: MEAC, NEC, and ECAC. These 21 intercollegiate varsity sports include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, track and field (indoor and outdoor), swimming and diving, tennis, and golf for men. For women, there is volleyball, cross country, soccer, basketball, track and field (indoor and outdoor), swimming and diving, bowling, softball, tennis, and lacrosse. Not only is there a vast number of these highly successful teams, but Howard’s athletic graduation rate across teams is excellent, which is a testament to the caliber of education and support provided by the school.

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