Another professional athlete works to boost the sports at a historically black university. Shows slow trickle of Black sports talent back to HBCUs.
Without a coach for four months, the Bethune-Cookman College Wildcats are thrilled to have former NBA superstar Reggie Theus coach their team. In addition to his new role, he will also serve as the school’s athletic director.
Bethune-Cookman College tweeted, “Mr. Theus joins the B-CU family as Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach. We’re so excited to have you.”
Theus stepped into this dual role as former Wildcats Head Coach Ryan Ridder takes the same position at the University of Tennessee and Lynn Thompson steps down after serving as the Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics for 30 years.
The period spent between coaches was a rough one for the Wildcats. All of the athletics were suspended for the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as reported by BCU Athletics. Fortunately for the Wildcats, coaching is nothing new for the former Chicago Bulls player. Prior to stepping into this role he was the Head Coach of the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Also, he worked as a BIG3 coach in the innovative league featuring veterans of the NBA.
Moreover, Theus played a total of 1,026 games and averaged 18.5 points per game in his career. The Inglewood, California native and two-time NBA All-Star knows that building the athletics at BCC will be a challenge, but is ready.
“Is it going to be hard? Yeah. Will I run into some snags? Of course. Is that part of the game? Absolutely,” says Theus.
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So what brought on the decision for Ridder and Thompson to step down from their former positions?
Ridder tweeted, “God is directing our family in a new direction…I’m fired up to be accepting the position as the new Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Tennessee.”
For Thompson, the past year was a time of reflection and life reassessment.
“Making this change now gives me the opportunity to focus some time on the most important things to me and my family while charting the next steps in my personal and professional journey,” says Thompson.
Interestingly, this transition was something that Theus prayed about for quite some time.
“I’ve prayed many nights and asked God what he was preparing me for. I’ve always prayed to have this type of an opportunity, that’s why I call it an opportunity of a lifetime,” says Theus.
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Sports at HBCUs are becoming a more viable option. In 2019, former ESPN sports analyst, Jamele Hill suggested that Black athletes bound for college should consider HBCUs rather than white universities to deal with the gross inequities regarding the funding at colleges. When the George Floyd protests kicked into high gear, promising high school athletes such as all-star basketball Guard Chris Paul of Winston-Salem State University, Forward Makur Maker of Howard University and Forward Devocio Butler of Texas Southern University began to weigh their options of school choices. This week, five-star tennis player, Amber Fuller, transferred to Norfolk University in Virginia from West Virginia University. Currently, she’s ranked number 61 in the world.
NFL superstar and Head Coach of the Jackson State Tigers, Deion Sanders expressed his concerns about the lack of high profile athletes being recruited from HBCUs to the NFL with First Take. “When you only have two kids that’s invited to the entire NFL combine, that’s a travesty.” According to Sanders, Jackson State has four NFL hall of fame players that matriculated from the school. “We need to get that back,” says Sanders.
Much like Sanders, Theus is using his big name to attract and coach top of the line high school athletes to HBCUs. The hope is that the number of HBCU graduates that are recruited to the NBA increases.
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