Eagles Safety Calls Out Colleges for ‘Profiting Off Our Excellence’

Rodney McLeod

Getty Rodney McLeod signed a two-year deal with the Eagles to remain their starting free safety.

College football profits hand over fist on the backs of black athletes. Maybe it’s time the NCAA did more for them.

Not just college football, all of college athletics. Black males constitute 55-percent of college football teams and 56-percent of college basketball teams across 65 institutions, per a recent study conducted by USC professor Shaun R. Harper.

Yet many schools and individual programs have remained silent in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said he is sick of them “profiting off our excellence” and proposed an interesting idea to turn the tide. Black athletes should spurn the so-called “Power Conferences” in favor of HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities).

“While these colleges make millions of dollars from college athletic sports, specifically football. Most have shied away from speaking out, and standing alongside their student-athletes,” McLeod wrote. “Profit off our excellence, quiet during our suffering is not the way. Majority of the teams are black student. What if we started sending all of our D-1 athletes to HBCU. Build our own schools back up, allow them to reap the benefits of our talents instead. The top colleges today are profiting 100 million annually.”

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Top College Basketball Recruit Hints at HBCU Move

McLeod isn’t the only one advocating for Division 1 athletes to boycott bigger college programs. The top recruit in the 2023 basketball class hinted that he may decide to commit to an HBCU.

Mikey Williams, a rising sophomore at San Ysidro High School, has already received 16 scholarship offers including Arizona, Arkansas, Memphis, Kansas, Oregon, UCLA and USC. He also has offers from top HBCU schools like Grambling State, Hampton and Howard.

Last week, Williams shook up the world of college athletics when he tweeted out eight letters.

“Going to an HBCU wouldn’t be too bad,” he wrote.

He followed it up with a thoughtful Instagram post about why he is considering taking a different path. The thought didn’t jump into his mind overnight.

“This has been a thought for years. This didn’t just recently pop up in my head,” Williams wrote. “What a lot of coaches don’t understand is that we don’t need them. We control our own narrative!!”

NCAA Reported $1.1 Billion in Revenue in 2017

This isn’t the first time the debate over whether black athletes should abandon white colleges has surfaced. In 2017, Jemele Hill inked a powerful piece for The Atlantic where she proposed the idea of black athletes “forcing change.” She reported that the NCAA raked in $1.1 billion in revenue from athletics in 2017.

The HBCUs simply don’t have the money to compete with the power conferences. But if a high-profile recruit (see: Mikey Williams) committed to a school like Howard or Hampton, it might force a seismic shift and lead to other prep stars doing the same. Hill wrote the following:

It wouldn’t be that hard. Many of the top high-school players, especially in basketball, know one another from Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments and all-star games, as the Fab Five did. If a few of them got together at HBCUs, they could redraw the landscape of college basketball.

If promising black student-athletes chose to attend HBCUs in greater numbers, they would, at a minimum, bring some welcome attention and money to beleaguered black colleges, which invested in black people when there was no athletic profit to reap. More revolutionarily, perhaps they could disrupt the reign of an “amateur” sports system that uses the labor of black folks to make white folks rich.

It’s an interesting conversation, perhaps a greater debate is on the horizon. Kudos to Rodney McLeod for helping call attention to it.

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