Deion Sanders Says 'It's Unacceptable' for HBCUs to Face Uneven Playing Field

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2017, file photo, Thursday Night Football analyst Deion Sanders gives his take before an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders says he will become Jackson State's football coach. Sanders made the announcement Sunday night, Sept. 20, 2020, on the first episode of the “21st & Prime” podcast with Jamie Dukes on Barstool Sports. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Football Hall of Famer and Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders opened up about the uneven playing field that historically Black colleges and universities face when it comes to football during Wednesday's Southwestern Athletic Conference media days.

"The playing field is horrible," Sanders told reporters. "It's not a level playing field. It's unacceptable. Thank God that God called me to change the game, to open their eyes, to open the door. Not just for Jackson State, but for everybody."

While there are differences even within Power Five conference programs between the likes of Alabama and Ohio State compared to Vanderbilt and Northwestern, Sanders said it was about more than just massive cathedral-like stadiums and boosters helping the programs.

"Some of the things that I've seen thus far early in my tenure are truly unacceptable," Sanders said. "It causes a kid not to dream. It causes a kid to not have that passion because he don't see no end result that's promising for him."

He highlighted outdated equipment, training tables and other concerns.

"I'm doing this for these babies, man," Sanders said. "They deserve it. The look in their eyes when they get a whole new sweatsuit just to wear back to the darn dorm. Shoes and looking the same when they get the helmets and the uniforms and all that stuff plays a tremendous role."

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Nick Suss of the Clarion Ledger noted Sanders helped Jackson State coordinate a deal with Under Armour and met with Golden Corral to discuss having a place for his players to eat off campus.

The eight-time Pro Bowler knows what it is like to play with proper equipment and support in place considering he went to football powerhouse Florida State for college and played 14 years in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington and Baltimore Ravens.

Turning things around at Jackson State will not be an easy task for Sanders after the Tigers went 4-8 during the 2019 campaign.

They are scheduled to open their upcoming season Feb. 21 against Edward Waters.