Has Deion Sanders become the voice of SWAC


Khalil Stewart, Sports and Intramurals Editor

In the span of two years, Jackson State University head football coach Deion Sanders has won a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship, landed the No. 1 recruit in the nation in Travis Hunter, and put Jackson State under the national microscope. The future is bright in Jackson, Mississippi, but with all these accomplishments it begs the question: Has he become the voice of the SWAC?
My answer is no. While Sanders has brought more attention to these schools, his recent comments about the SWAC have rubbed some people the wrong way, including myself.
After a close first half versus Grambling State University Sanders stated, “We don’t want to dominate and go pro; we cool. We’re playing in the HBCU.” To elaborate on this quote he is stating that his team is playing down the competition in the HBCU world.
I understand his goal is to make Jackson State a powerhouse; however, since he has arrived he has talked about leveling the playing field for all HBCUs. If that is the goal, you should be building these other schools up.
It is almost as if he is trying to isolate Jackson State from the rest of the schools. Nobody asked Coach Sanders to save Black colleges. Now that we are reflecting on the situation, we are the only programs that gave him an opportunity.
He should be thanking us for giving him an opportunity, unfortunately, it sounds like he is degrading other programs. The SWAC has benefited from having him in the conference. In my opinion, whenever he is done coaching at Jackson State, he will be a SWAC legend. But he needs to stay true to his word.
I will repeat it again, nobody asked him to save us, but since he offered his services we would like to see him follow through. He cannot be the voice of the SWAC if he does not even find value in the conference himself.
Many outsiders were not aware of Jackson State University before the arrival of Sanders, so when he talks about his experiences with the program they put stock into his words. Now granted, Sanders is correct with some of his evaluations of Black colleges, however, make the change!
The views of Sanders do not align with the rest of the conference. Most supporters of the SWAC are dedicated to the traditions which include classics. While HBCUs would love to keep their classics, Sanders claims that the schools involved make no money. However, I will give him the benefit of the doubt since he is new to the Black college scene.
To be honest, I do not see Sanders remaining at Jackson State University long-term. In a recent interview with the Earn Your Leisure podcast, he said, “My goal is to take Jackson State to a Power Five conference.” He continued, “I do not think that I have to leave here in order to level the playing field.”
Again I will emphasize that I do not see him sticking around at Jackson State very long, he has bigger goals than his school in my opinion. He is currently stripping HBCUs of what makes them great as far as their classics. Moving up to a Power Five conference would be a great financial gain however, the likelihood of Jackson State remaining an HBCU would be in jeopardy.
At some point, you have to stop talking about it and just do it. He wants other SWAC football players to have an opportunity when they enter the draft, but classifying them as “HBCU-level talent” makes others believe these players are not worthy. In order for Sanders to speak for the SWAC, his values need to align with the rest of the conference.