Some Thoughts About Deion Sanders

Picture courtesy of Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian via AP, File

After weeks of speculation about his decision, Deion Sanders formally announced that he would be leaving HBCU Jackson State to become the head coach at the University Of Colorado. As a lifelong fan of Deion Sanders (save for a couple of unfortunate years when he played for the Dallas Cowboys), I’m conflicted about the news.

One one hand, it’s a major loss for Jackson State, and HBCUs in general. Sanders was vocal about his choice to work at an HBCU, and he brought excellence and fame to a Black school- in fact, the number one overall football prospect in the country, Travis Hunter, committed to attending Jackson State this year. That’s the highest rated recruit to ever commit to an HBCU. When five-star basketball recruit Makur Maker committed to an HBCU in 2020, there was hope that a movement was beginning where highly rated Black players would begin choosing HBCUs over the traditional powerhouse schools. By leaving Jackson State, Sanders is undermining that hope.

On the other hand though, the fact is that Colorado will bring more exposure and attention to Sanders, who is a man who always wants the spotlight on him. Not to mention more money, better recruiting opportunities, and other perks from being at a bigger school. Sanders worked hard in Jackson State, and earned the chance to work at a higher profile school. And he himself has said that his move is partially motivated by making it easier for other Black coaches to get opportunities at big schools.

So yes, I’m conflicted. I understand the desire to help our people and bring resources that are usually reserved for white people and their institutions. But I also understand the need to work in a place that can match the value that we bring. I would love to tutor in Hartford or Bloomfield, but the reality is that they can’t pay as well as suburban districts. I don’t fault Sanders at all (well, no more than I fault myself) for chasing bigger opportunities.

I just wish he hadn’t told his kids he was staying. That’s the one sour note in all of this, and something that college coaches do constantly. There’s nothing wrong with moving on, but the kids who relied on him for leadership deserved the truth earlier.

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