Grambling's Gambling at DI Level Stark Contrast to Small-School Success

Grambling State, winless in 2012-13 (0-28) with all of its regular-season defeats by double-digit margins, isn't the only HBCU institution imprisoned at the NCAA Division I level. Most of them are little more than indentured servants doing the bidding of their major university masters almost always getting whipped on the road as picking-on-patsies fodder during non-conference competition.

In a form of "gaming the system," a striking number of power-league schools appear as if they want to celebrate Black History Month in advance during their non-conference slates by overdosing on scheduling outmatched opponents from the MEAC and SWAC.

SWAC member Grambling, banished from postseason play next season for the second time in last five years because of APR woes, never has appeared in the NCAA Division I Tournament. It's a stark contrast to the success the Tigers found at the small-college level. Beginning with third-rounder Charles Hardnett in 1962, they supplied one of the top 21 NBA draft picks four consecutive years through 1965. A total of 23 products from historically black colleges and universities now at the NCAA DI level, including eight from Grambling, were among the following top 22 NBA draft choices in a 20-year span from 1957 through 1976:

1957 - Sam Jones (North Carolina Central/8th pick overall) and Bob McCoy (Grambling/10th)
1958 - Ben Swain (Texas Southern/8th)
1959 - Dick Barnett (Tennessee A&I/5th)
1960 - none
1961 - Ben Warley (Tennessee A&I/6th) and Cleo Hill (Winston-Salem State/8th)
1962 - Zelmo Beaty (Prairie View/3rd) and Charles Hardnett (Grambling/21st)
1963 - Hershell West (Grambling/16th)
1964 - Willis Reed (Grambling/10th)
1965 - Wilbert Frazier (Grambling/12th) and Harold Blevins (Arkansas AM&N/17th)
1966 - none
1967 - Earl Monroe (Winston-Salem State/2nd) and James Jones (Grambling/13th)
1968 - none
1969 - Willie Norwood (Alcorn A&M/19th)
1970 - Jake Ford (Maryland State/20th)
1971 - Fred Hilton (Grambling/19th) and Ted McClain (Tennessee State/22nd)
1972 - none
1973 - none
1974 - Truck Robinson (Tennessee State/22nd)
1975 - Marvin Webster (Morgan State/3rd), Eugene Short (Jackson State and Tom Boswell (South Carolina State before transferring to South Carolina/17th)
1976 - Larry Wright (Grambling/14th)

Is it time for HBCU affiliates to return to the DII level? The truth about black crime in basketball is that it's a big sin many observers don't know or can't recall the high degree of success historically-black colleges and universities enjoyed there. It simply isn't going to the back of the bus. What many observers should know is seven different historically black colleges and universities advancing to the NCAA DI level captured a total of nine NAIA and NCAA College Division Tournament championships in a 21-year span from 1957 through 1977 (Tennessee State from 1957 through 1959, Grambling '61, Prairie View A&M '62, Winston-Salem State '67, Morgan State '74, Coppin State '76 and Texas Southern '77).

Winson-Salem State saw what life looked like on the DI side of the fence and abandoned ship after only one season. All but two of the 25 HBCUs endured at least one season with 20 defeats in a six-year span from 2003-04 through 2008-09. Grambling isn't missing much insofar as conference members from the Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic have won only 10% of their NCAA Division I Tournament games.