Deion Sanders’ appointment as the 21st head football coach at Jackson State University isn’t about publicity. Nor is it just about football.
It’s about opportunity.
Not for Sanders, the two-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back—his illustrious playing career coupled with his personality and charisma have opened doors to plenty of those. “Prime Time” is a household name.
Rather, his appointment is an opportunity for the next generation. For student-athletes at Jackson State. For student-athletes across all historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“We’re employed by Jackson State and the dream and goal is to build Jackson State, but the overall big picture of things is to build HBCUs in general,” Sanders told me. “If we get a five- or four-star kid in another HBCU, I think we won; not ‘we’ as in Jackson State but we won in general because now we’re leveling the playing field. It’s so vital that we shed light on things like why can’t these kids have a bowl game at the conclusion of the season? Why aren’t these kids being invited to the NFL Combine? Why aren’t these kids having the same opportunities other kids are having when you’ve had four Hall of Famers derive from Jackson State University?
“So that means giving it a level playing field—the same type of locker rooms, the same type of academic resources and software, the same type of tutoring, as well as stadiums and fields. Giving that same balance, I guarantee you, you will see tremendous upside coming from HBCUs. It’s very vital that we get that understanding out publicly.”
In August 2019, Ohio State University, the fifth-most valuable college football