Tennessee State University wants to create nation's first HBCU hockey program

Tennessee State (l.) could become the first HBCU to establish a Division I hockey program, launching an exploratory committee with help from the NHL’s nearby Nashville Predators.
Tennessee State (l.) could become the first HBCU to establish a Division I hockey program, launching an exploratory committee with help from the NHL’s nearby Nashville Predators.
Image: Getty Images

HBCUs have always been at the forefront of Black advancement in all areas of life.

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The sports world is no exception to this.

It’s obvious that there is a problem with diversity in some sports, Hockey being one of them. So per usual, an HBCU comes in to try to correct the problem.

According to the Nashville Post, Tennessee State University is considering a Division I hockey program in coordination with the Nashville Predators, the city’s NHL franchise. It would be the only HBCU hockey program in the entire country.

The two are no strangers to collaborating. In the spring of 2020, the Predators teamed up with Tennessee State for a campaign that ultimately raised nearly $2 million for over 500 merit and need-based scholarships. The Predators put down the first $100,000 to get the ball rolling.

In addition, the two have also joined to fight discrimination and transform the Nashville area. That initiative was titled the GUIDER (Growth, Understanding, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Representation) Group.

Tennessee State hockey is still a long way from becoming reality — the school will first establish a “feasibility committee” to gather info before making its decision. But even the program’s consideration is a step in the right direction.

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There has been an increased emphasis put on HBCUs getting involved in sports that traditionally lack Black players. Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry provided six years of funding for a golf program at Howard University. According to HBCU Gameday, the SIAC, a Division II HBCU athletic conference, received a grant to start a men’s volleyball competition a few years ago, and Grambling State University in Louisiana will host an event this summer that will try to urge HBCUs to incorporate gymnastics programs.

Oftentimes the only things stopping Black people from getting involved in certain activities are a lack of exposure and representation. Never mistake the lack of diversity in these sports with the level of interest from certain communities. If we really want to create diversity in sports other than football, basketball, and track, we need to allocate resources to meeting Black people where they are, and bringing the games to them. There also needs to be an emphasis on protecting these programs and making sure that they provide opportunities for Black hockey players.

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Bringing Hockey to HBCUs would be a positive step to making hockey better.