CREATION OF HBCU ATHLETICS
Edwin Henderson was a pioneer of African American involvement in sports. He formed the first African American athletic conference, the Interscholastic Athletic Association (I.S.A.A) which was organized and promoted play between Black basketball teams along the Mid-Atlantic coast.
The NCAA was formally established the same year as the I.S.A.A, by a group of leaders from Ivy Leagues. During this time, the NCAA excluded both Black athletes and HBCUs from participation.
The creation of the I.S.A.A conference allowed Black athletes to emerge alongside white conferences and led to creation of HBCU conferences known today.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was founded and incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) was founded in 1913.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) was formed in 1920 with six Texas Black colleges: Bishop College, Paul Quinn College, Prairie View A&M, Texas College and Wiley College.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) was founded in 1970.
Assimilation efforts led to the extraction of many Black student athletes from HBCUs to PWIs. As a result, PWIs went from wholesale excluding Black athletes to selectively recruiting Black athletes who could economically benefit their institution. With the advancement of PWIs and their athletic programs, they became a more viable destination for many Black student athletes til this day.
The Decline of HBCU Athletics
Prior to desegregation, HBCUs often enrolled athletes of exceptional talent. From 1947 to 1959, twelve HBCU players were drafted into the NBA.
In the 1960s, the number of HBCU draftees quadrupled, as professional scouts looking for African-American players discovered HBCU campuses as new sources of talent.
In the 1970s, the NBA drafted 64 HBCU players — the most of any decade — but as college athletics became more integrated, the HBCU numbers declined in each subsequent decade.
The power of HBCUs in the world of college athletics soon died off, as more Black college athletes were funneled to PWIs. Black college athletes gained momentum athletically, but lost out culturally from the rich environment and support HBCUs offered.