North Carolina’s sports betting bill, House Bill 347, plans to allocate $300,000 annually to five in-state Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The bill currently sits in the Senate Rules and Operations Committee, but with Crossover Day for the North Carolina Legislature in the rearview, the bill should pick up speed in the coming weeks.
The Senate has until Aug. 31 to conclude its business for the year. If HB 347 advances through the Senate and gets Gov. Roy Cooper’s seal of approval, North Carolina sports betting is scheduled to launch on Jan. 8, 2024.
Five North Carolina HBCUs to benefit from sports betting tax revenue
Ten universities would receive funding through HB 347. Five of those are HBCUs, and five are part of the University of North Carolina system.
The five HBCUs are:
- Elizabeth City State University
- Fayetteville State University
- North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
- North Carolina Central University
- Winston-Salem State University
The other five institutions to receive funding include:
- The University of North Carolina at Asheville
- The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
- The University of North Carolina at Wilmington
- Western Carolina University
According to HB 347, $300,000 in sports betting tax revenue shall be appropriated to each institution to support collegiate athletic departments.
If revenue is not sufficient for each institution to receive $300,000, then the amount appropriated shall be reduced by the same proportion.
However, if there is any remaining tax revenue after all allocations are made per the bill, 20% of the remaining revenue would also go to the above-mentioned schools.
Inclusion of HBCUs a contentious choice
Some have claimed the bill was made more palatable by including provisions for North Carolina’s HBCUs.
But Rep. Abe Jones, a Republican and opponent of the bill, rejects the notion.
“I love HBCUs. I want HBCUs to get money. You bet I do. But not this money,” Jones told to the Christian Action League of North Carolina.
For lawmakers like Jones, money from sports betting, considered a vice, is not what they want funneled into education.
For others, the funding is sorely needed to support otherwise cash-strapped institutions.
Dr. Al-Tony Gilmore, distinguished historian emeritus of the National Education Association, follows the trajectories of HBCUs in the North American collegiate system.
“Increasingly the expenses of operating football and, to somewhat of a lesser extent, basketball programs,” Dr. Gilmore explained in the Journal of Blacks In Higher Education, “have outpaced the growth in HBCU athletic program budgets.”
While North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have played a leading role in educating and producing outstanding graduates, they have also struggled to stay alive and relevant in athletics.
Most aren’t able to compete on the same athletic level as predominantly white institutions. This is one of the reasons why HB 347 proposes to allot $300,000 to their athletics programs.
History of HBCUs in North Carolina
Education for Black people before the Civil War was in short supply, especially in the South, where laws prohibited teaching enslaved people to read and write.
Though a few schools were dedicated to the education of Black people in the North before the Civil War, the first college in the South available to Black students became Raleigh’s Shaw University in 1865.
The era immediately following the Civil War saw an uptick in the number of institutions committed to educating Black students.
More followed when segregation limited equal access to education. These schools came to be known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Five of North Carolina’s 11 HBCUs would receive funding under HB 347, and the following list gives a brief rundown of the different schools:
Elizabeth City State University
Founded in 1891, Elizabeth City State University started as the Normal and Industrial School to teach and train teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.
Today, Elizabeth City State University is a leading partner for economic, social and environmental progress.
ECSU, part of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), offers men’s and women’s NCAA Division II athletics in nine disciplines.
Fayetteville State University
When seven progressive Black citizens paid $140 for a lot on Fayetteville’s Gillespie Street in 1867, they intended to convert the property into a permanent site for the education of Black children in the area.
A decade later, the state Legislature nominated the school to become the first state-supported academy to train teachers.
Fayetteville State University, in the CIAA, is an NCAA Division II program offering men’s and women’s athletics in nine disciplines.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
This school began as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race in 1891. The Greensboro school changed its name in 1915 to what it is today and joined the consolidated University of North Carolina System in 1972.
It’s the largest of the historically Black colleges in North Carolina and home to one of the state’s three engineering colleges.
NC A&T State is an NCAA Division I school in the Colonial Athletic Association, offering men’s and women’s athletics in 10 disciplines.
North Carolina Central University
Located in Durham, North Carolina Central University was the first state-supported liberal arts college for Black students in North Carolina. It opened its doors to students in 1910 under the name National Religious Training School Chautauqua.
Its mission since inception has been to develop young Black students into citizens with fine character and sound academic training.
NCCU is an NCAA Division I school in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, with eight disciplines of men’s and women’s athletics.
Winston-Salem State University
Founded in 1928 as the Slater Industrial Academy, the institution has become one of North Carolina’s top universities.
Notable alumni from Winston-Salem include sports commentator Stephen A. Smith and NBA star Chris Paul, who graduated from the university last year but played college basketball at Wake Forest University.
WSSU is an NCAA Division II school in the CIAA with eight disciplines of men’s and women’s athletics.