Thank you Coach Prime!

Dear Coach Sanders –

Thank you! Thank you for shining your light on Jackson State University (JSU) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the past three years. You have used your celebrity and influence to capture national media attention and have been part of the resurgence of HBCUs in so many beautiful ways. While HBCUs have been around for over 200 years, in their very storied history, they have not received the support and recognition they deserve. You have changed some of this, and we, as authors and educators, want to thank you.

From the time you arrived on the Jackson State campus, you demanded the best from your student-athletes, other students, faculty, staff, administration, and the JSU community. The high standard has obviously resonated and has come to the cumulation of a perfect football season. As Shereem Herndon-Brown and I were writing “Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions: A Conversation About Education, Parenting, and Race,” we focused on your impact on HBCUs in a chapter entitled “Shift in Power, The Resurgence of HBCU Culture.” In this chapter, we highlight the spotlight you have placed on HBCUs and your necessary disruption of the college football hierarchy.

When top national recruits decide to attend Jackson State University or other HBCUs programs over Power Five conferences (SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac- 12, Big Ten), it becomes a big deal and makes national headlines.”

The world has taken notice, and that can clearly be seen as you have been highlighted on magazine covers, 60 Minutes, and many other platforms that for decades neglected Black colleges in their coverage. You have made your presence felt, and we know this is just the beginning. I am not offended by your “confidence.” I applaud it! As many people question your departure and commitment to HBCUs, I say you owe them nothing. You have said from the time you stepped foot on campus that you would always keep an open mind and “would be a fool not to.” This sentiment is true throughout society and is definitely a part of the fabric of intercollege sports. The days of coaches staying their entire careers like Eddie Robinson are long gone. The reality is outside of Nick Saben you would be hard pressed to find a head football coach that has a tenure beyond 10 years. It was just a few years ago they were ready to run Jim Harbaugh out of the University of Michigan and he played there and went on to the National Football League (NFL).

Just as I was having general conversations with two or three people recently, we all emphasized the importance of keeping our life options open. The desire to change, evolve, and accept new challenges is human nature; thus, why would it be any different for you? For all you have achieved as a man, father, coach, Major League Baseball standout, and Hall of Fame football player, you have cemented your legacy of greatness. Your transition to the University of Colorado makes complete sense to me, and I wish you all the best as you enter this next chapter in your life.

As you move forward, I would ask you to remember that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Please don’t forget about HBCUs and the lessons you learned while at JSU and traveling throughout the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). While many of the stadiums will be bigger and the crowds will “look” different, please hold the sound of the bands, fans, culture, and homecoming feeling of HBCUs, close to your heart. We miss you already, but in my eyes, no matter what anyone says, you will always be “SWAC.” Remember, you can always come home, and we will have your theme music ready for you!

Thanks again,

Timothy Fields, Morehouse College ‘98

Co-Author of Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions: A Conversation About Education, Parenting, and Race

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