Solid leadership in HBCU athletic programs is clear when an institution has championship-level teams, accessibility to fans and media, innovation in corporate partnerships, and most of all, less than half of a fan base calling for the firing of the athletic director.
HBCUs continue to bump against the glass ceiling of becoming nationally relevant, but still remain most regarded for struggling to graduate athletes, having to take humiliating guaranteed games to finance their programs, and being one-hit wonders in March Madness. Spelman College discontinued its athletic program and gained positive media and financial benefit for doing so. That move makes it even tougher for HBCUs to justify the millions in athletics without an ROI of championships or sustainable community engagement.
Leading a HBCU is not an enviable gig, but there are many who are making the most of the job that, next to being an HBCU president, is the hardest at any institution. Here are five of the best.
Dennis Cousin – Xavier University of Louisiana – The Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets are nationally competitive in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, and cross-country – all while graduating well over 90 percent of student athletes.
Lynn Thompson- Bethune-Cookman University - In the race to break through as a national football power outside of the BCS machine, Bethune-Cookman is the closest to winning the race. In a recent stretch, Cookman had a virtual lock on conference championships in football, baseball, golf and softball. Additionally, Cookman outpaces all HBCUs in the usage of digital media to market and expose athletics, most recently with the launch of the CatEye Network.
William Hayes – Winston-Salem State University - The unofficial dean of HBCU athletic administrators, Bill Hayes has forged hall of fame careers as a football coach and athletic director. At WSSU, he oversees a current football dynasty, and championship-caliber teams in baseball, men’s basketball and softball.
Marty Miller – Norfolk State University - One of the great HBCU baseball head coaches of all time, Miller has presided over major renovations to Norfolk State’s athletic physical plant, and has overseen recent football championships in men’s basketball, football and track and field.
Dr. William Broussard – Southern University - The youngest and newest member of the top-tier of athletic directors, Broussard is ushering in a new generation of HBCU athletic executives. Active on social media and accessible to the fan base, Broussard has made all the right moves with coaching hires and outreach to the Jaguar Nation. In return, the program is making a comeback in its signature programs – football and its SWAC champion men’s basketball program.