Black Education / Schools : Black colleges now recruit white players

Discussion in 'Black Education / Schools' started by dustyelbow, May 23, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    Black colleges now recruit white players
    Teams look at talent, not race

    In Historically Black MEAC Conference, Non-Blacks Fill Baseball Rosters

    Tommy Stratchko plays first base and designated hitter for Coppin State University in Baltimore. His twin brother, Bernie, plays third base for the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

    Three years ago, when their mother Norma first heard the acronym HBCU, she had to ask what it meant. Thursday, when the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference - a collection of historically black colleges and universities - began its baseball tournament in Norfolk, Va., Norma Stratchko and her husband were in the stands and their sons faced each other on the field.

    That two white twin brothers from La Plata, Md., would be starters for a pair of predominantly black schools is hardly even noteworthy in black college-baseball circles. Only one of the MEAC's seven baseball teams had a majority-black roster this season, and nearly half of the league's players were white, according to interviews with coaches and sports information directors. At some historically black schools, the ratio of black players to white players is almost the exact opposite of the ratio of black students to white students.

    "If you saw these teams without their uniforms, you wouldn't even know they're HBCU anymore," said Claudell Clark, who played and now coaches at Norfolk State. "We're just trying to recruit the best possible athlete we can get, white or black. We're not necessarily concerned with that."

    The shrinking number of black baseball players is a much-noted trend that stretches across all levels of the game. Last season, 8.5 percent of Major League Baseball players were black, down from 18 percent in 1991, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. In the 2004 season, just 6 percent of Division I baseball players were black, according to an NCAA survey, compared with 58 percent of basketball players and 44 percent of football players.

    But on campuses that are often 85 or 90 percent black, the MEAC's baseball rosters are especially striking. At Coppin State, about half of the school's 30 white male students play for the baseball team. At league powerhouse Bethune-Cookman, about half of the school's 30 Hispanic male students do the same.

    Coaches at historically black schools tell stories of attending showcase events for high school seniors and seeing just four or five black faces among 200 prospects. At their schools, the situation is reversed; white players on several MEAC teams said they're often the only non-black students in their classes and are easily identified as baseball players merely by walking through campus.

    "I look at the pictures on my wall; when I started, the team was predominantly black and we had maybe one or two white kids, and you look at it 10 years later and it was split down the middle," said Florida A&M Coach Joe Durant, who has spent 15 years at the Tallahassee school. "You want to look for the African-American kids first, because we're a predominantly black university, but when you can't find 'em, you can't find 'em... . (Coach) Danny Price from Florida International, he looked at my team and said, '**** Joe, you've got more white kids than I do.' "

    Whether this is even worth mentioning is a matter of some debate. White players, who in some cases have been asked repeatedly about their school choice by friends and media members, said their minority status is insignificant.

    "Baseball is baseball no matter where you go," said Bernie Stratchko, a phrase repeated by players of different races at different schools.

    Administrators at several schools said the racial makeup of their teams is never discussed with coaches, that there are no racial quotas or goals and that coaches are merely expected to recruit athletes who are able to compete at the Division I level.

    "We don't play baseball because of color," UMES acting athletic director Keith Davidson said. "We play baseball because in order to be a Division I program you have to have 14 sponsored sports, and baseball is one of the ones we chose to play."

    The MEAC's seven baseball coaches said their most important goals are winning baseball games and graduating students, and that they will continue to recruit the players most suited to that task - "black, white, blue, purple," said Eastern-Shore Coach Bobby Rodriguez; "black, white, green, orange," echoed Delaware State Coach J.P. Blandin.

    Coaches said parents are more likely to ask about campus life than players, but that racial issues are not central to the recruiting process.

    "We're trying to think of who can get the ball down to second or who can throw the ball over the outside third of the plate," said North Carolina A&T Coach Keith Shumate, who is white. "When we talk about white or black, we're talking about parts of the plate we throw to or what uniform we're going to wear."

    These schools often have small or nonexistent baseball recruiting budgets and scholarship allotments far below the NCAA maximum. Scholarship dollars last longer, the coaches explained, when divided among in-state players, regardless of race. They said that polished black players are snatched up by elite schools or the major league draft, and that less-polished players often choose to play other sports in college.

    But some coaches also said they're representing schools whose historical missions were tied to race, schools that in some cases have long traditions of producing black baseball players, and that they continue to search for black prospects. Major League Baseball stars Andre Dawson, Vince Coleman, Marquis Grissom and Hal McRae all came from MEAC schools, and the schools sent several players to the Negro leagues.

    "I feel a calling to make sure we recruit black athletes," said N.C. A&T's Shumate, who coaches the only majority-black baseball team in the league. "Any time you talk about race the least little thing can be twisted, and that's why people don't like to talk about it, but I'm outspoken about it.... It's about opportunity, and it's about making sure these kids get opportunities just like the other kids do."

    Of the 23 schools in the MEAC and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association - the two historically black conferences that encompass the mid-Atlantic region - only 12 play baseball.

    When Terrance Whittle became the coach at Division II Elizabeth City State six years ago, the baseball team was mostly white. Whittle has since launched a concerted drive to recruit black players, and said his roster this season is about 75 percent black.

    "For us it is an effort, a conscious effort to find and field the best black baseball players and to stay true to the historical mission and complexion of our schools," he said. "The MEAC seems to have kind of gotten away from that mold of recruiting African-American players, and the complexion of their rosters has changed."

    But Whittle acknowledged that, as a Division I conference, the MEAC faces different challenges. There are stricter eligibility requirements, and there are regular meetings with the biggest powers in the sport, heavyweights from the ACC or the SEC.

    In fact, that prospect of facing the best teams in the country is responsible for attracting many of the white players, who often said historically black schools offered their only chance to play Division I baseball. That's what landed Tommy Stratchko at Coppin State, where he said being the only white kid in class has been "different from everything I've ever experienced."

    The Baltimore school has just one student cafeteria and two dorms, and non-athletes agreed that it's easy to pick out the baseball team around campus. The baseball players stick together around campus, but so too do athletes from other sports. Coppin State pitcher Alex Hangland joked he can never skip class because his absence is too easily noted, and several teammates said they've never spent time in a majority-black environment before baseball brought them to Baltimore.

    Coppin State outfielder Ryan Deakyne, for example, went to high school and junior college in California; both schools were overwhelmingly white. His friends asked him what it would be like at a predominantly black school and he said he didn't know. When he arrived on campus he ate meals by himself if he couldn't find any teammates, and was intimidated by the idea of being the only white student in a classroom.

    Now, he said, the idea of being intimidated by a majority-black class seems "ridiculous." If he doesn't see baseball players in the cafeteria, he sits with other students. Plus, he tasted gumbo for the first time and proudly tells of going to a D.C. nightclub this week for a teammate's 21st birthday.

    Claudell Clark Norfolk State baseball coach
  2. oldiesman

    oldiesman Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 9, 2006
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    black colleges...

    i too read about it and i'm not surprised,today baseball tomorrow the school,remember the story of the[TROJAN HORSE]think about it folks those schools athletic programs will prosper because of the spinkling of afew white athletes and don't be surprised to see some white folk going out for tennis too,at howard d.c.the baseball team was recently disbanded and one of the[SUPPOSED]reasons was that there wasn't a home field when right across the street sits a newly refurbished baseball field,now how much would you wanna bet that as soon as afew white students decide that they wanna see a baseball team that not only will the program be reinstated but the field become available,what i'm saying is that these are dangerous times for hbcu's all over the country,this is just the tip of the iceburg.


    United States
    Jun 10, 2004
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    Believe me when I say it is all about the money. Anything to get the money.