Fore! NCAA Division I: Golf Taps Its First Historically Black College

Article excerpt

Jackson State University made history this spring by becoming the

first historically Black institution to have its golf team invited to the

National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I golf tournament.

Division 110 the NCAA's top competitive division.

Jackson State's inclusion i s as ironic to some as it is historic. A year

ago, golf coach Eddie Payton tried discrimination when his team was

not selected for the tournament -- despite the fact that the majority

of his team is white. In fact, only one member of the current Jackson

State team is Black.

Critics charge that fielding majority white sports teams at historically

Black colleges undermines their mission. Supporters counter that the

situation is no different from white institutions that field mostly Black

basketball or football teams.

Economics appears to be at the root of the situation. With most Black

colleges lacking the financial resources to recruit extensively, particularly

to pursue the small pool of Black golfers who can be competitive at the

Division I level, many must turn to white golfers to be competitive.

And, because whites are in the minority at Black colleges, those

institutions are often in a better position to offer more lucrative

financial aid to whites.

It is a Catch-22 situation, according to Bill Dickey, president of the

National Minority junior Golf Scholarship Association, which helps to

provide financial assistance to young minority golfers.

Dickey said he has mixed emotions about Jackson State becoming the first

historically Black institution to appear in the Division I tournament. "To be

the first historically Black school is a plus," he said. "But the negative may

be that a majority of the players are white. But I know Eddie Payton and of

course, he wants to have the best program possible. He is trying to recruit

and get the best players."

The best Black players often have more options,

by virtue of being recruited by the best collegiate

golf programs in the country. Jackson

State pursues such players but,

as Dickey puts it, "The supply is

limited as to those guys who can

compete at the top of the Division

I level."

The top-level white schools

also tend to have better equipment,

uniforms, facilities and

transportation, making them more

attractive to the country's best

young golfers, Black and white.

So, with Black schools geographically

limited in their recruiting, it is the white golfer

who frequently gets the nod.

Raymond A. McDougal, golf coach at

Fayetteville State University, a Division II

school, fields a predominantly white team, but

makes no apologies. "I believe you should call

the white schools that have predominantly

Black basketball and football teams and see

what they say. it is not who plays; it is the

school that counts."

Fayetteville State, like most Black

schools, doesn't have money to recruit

players, "So most of our players are local

players. We serve the community here. That

is what a school is supposed to do

regardless of what race the people

are."

That is the true mission of a

historically Black institution, said

James Frank, commissioner of the

Southwestern Athletic Conference,

a group of historically Black

schools to which Jackson State

belongs. Jackson State is the only

school in the conference with a

majority white golf team.

As for Jackson State being ignored by the

NCAA in previous years, Frank said, "There

were charges of discrimination, not against an

all-white team, but discrimination against a

historically Black school. …