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by Black Issues

       

Super Quarterbacks Produced by HBCUs
ATLANTA — Although Steve McNair came up just short in his attempt to lead the Tennessee Titans to the National Football League Championship last month, the second African American to quarterback a team in the Super Bowl will go down in the records books nonetheless.
McNair guided a heart-stopping comeback by the Titans that almost forced the first overtime in Super Bowl history. His team came up 1 yard short when the St. Louis Rams kept Kevin Dyson out of the end zone on the final play. The Rams won, 23-16.
McNair’s 64-yard rushing performance set a Super Bowl record for quarterbacks. He scrambled 23 yards to set up the Titans’ first touchdown and on the final drive, he completed six passes for 48 yards and ran twice for 14 yards.
Interestingly, the only two Black quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl — McNair and Doug Williams, who led the Washington Redskins  to a 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII — attended historically Black colleges and universities. Williams graduated from Grambling, where he replaced the legendary Eddie Robinson as the university’s head football coach. McNair attended Alcorn State.
Anthony Woolfolk was an assistant football coach under Carter L. Jones when McNair attended Alcorn State. Woolfolk says poise and comeback heroics are nothing new for McNair.
“He never got mad at the defense or anything,” Woolfolk says of McNair, pointing to a game against Texas Southern. “We were down 41-36 with 15 seconds left. We needed 60 yards for a touchdown. The first pass was an up and out that netted 30-something yards; the second pass was a ‘Hail Mary.’ Two passes and we won the game.”
And Woolfolk maintains that the success of McNair and Williams “says a lot for historically Black colleges and universities. We do produce good players and we can produce quality quarterbacks as well as wide receivers, linemen and everything else.”


Storm Closes Schools; Lincoln Sends Students Home
OXFORD, Pa. — Problems with the electrical and heating systems at Lincoln University forced officials to close the campus last month and send some 1,400 students home. Those problems appeared to be related to the snowstorm of Jan. 26, which closed colleges and universities all along the East Coast.
With no heat in any of Lincoln’s 15 dormitories, students were advised to leave the campus, according to university Communications Director Sam Presley.
Trouble started shortly after midnight, Presley says, when smoke in the student union building was traced to the building’s main electrical transformer, which was overheating. Soon after that, a fire was discovered outside the boiler for the Frederick Douglass Dormitory.
PEPCO Energy Co. was called and determined that the entire electrical system for the campus would have to be shut down, Presley says. Emergency generators were turned on, but the loss of power meant that the oil-fired steam boilers for campus buildings would not be workable.
University officials believe that the systems were strained by heavy use during the storms of the past two days, Presley says.
No injuries were reported because of the emergency, and the university reopened the following week.
The problems weren’t as severe on other campuses; however, the vast majority of institutions postponed classes for a day or two.


Historians Call for Conference Boycott
 ST. LOUIS  —  African American, Latino and other historians from around the country are organizing a boycott of next month’s Organization of American Historians (OAH) annual convention because the venue where the meeting is to be held has a history of discrimination against Blacks.
New York University’s Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons is leading the protest as head of the Committee for a New Conference Site, or CNCS (pronounced cynics). “We have decided to create a formal organization to persuade the OAH to sever ties with the Adams Mark [Hotel] and to organize demonstrations in St. Louis against the Adams Mark whether or not the OAH takes such a step,” Sammons wrote in an e-mail inviting OAH members to join the protest.
Since 1991, the 21-hotel Adams Mark chain has been the subject of several lawsuits in which Black guests and/or employees have accused the company of discriminatory treatment. In 1999, five African American students and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sued the hotel’s Daytona Beach facility for mistreatment that the students say they were subjected to while attending the Black College Reunion.  The allegations led to a federal investigation of the hotel by the U.S. Justice Department.
Sammons says he first learned of the hotel’s reputation on Jan. 19, when talking about the convention with a friend who lives in St. Louis. After verifying the facts for himself, he decided to organize a formal protest. In a statement dated Feb. 4, CNCS members asked OAH Association President David Montgomery to either change the venue of the convention or postpone it until a more suitable facility can be secured. At Black Issues’ press time, OAH board members were weighing their options and planned to make a final decision by the end of February. The association’s annual meeting is scheduled for March 30-April 2.
If the historians break their contract with the Adams Mark, OAH officials say they stand to lose roughly $625,000, most of which the association would be required to pay the hotel. Such a decision, association officials say, could severely cripple the organization financially while inflicting little if any financial harm to the Adams Mark.
Sammons suspects the figures quoted by the organization are somewhat inflated. Nonetheless, he says, the organization stands to suffer even greater long-term damage, in terms of credibility and future memberships and contracts, if the organization chooses not to disassociate itself with the Adams Mark.  
In addition to Sammons, other founding members of CNCS include Dr. Beth Bates, Wayne State University; Dr. Michael Gomez, NYU; Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, NYU; Dr. Mark Naison, Fordham University; Dr. Donald Spivey, University of Miami; and Dr. Timothy Tyson, University of Wisconsin-Madison. At press time, approximately 50 others had pledged money and support for the protest,  Sammons says.


Washington Governor Wants to Make Promise Scholarships Permanent
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Although more than 2,000 high school seniors will be eligible this spring to receive state-funded college scholarships along with their diplomas, the future of Washington Promise Scholarships is in doubt while backers scrounge for funding.
The popular program was only funded by the Legislature for two years. Now Gov. Gary Locke, leading lawmakers and education lobbying groups are pushing a pair of bills that would establish a long-term Promise Scholarship program and expand the criteria to allow more applicants.
Lawmakers say they hope the scholarships will encourage young students to study hard and perform well on the new Washington Assessment of Student Learning test.
“We want to make sure it’s an incentive to 10th graders to take the 10th-grade test and pass it the first time,” Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, said. “We want to put some teeth in the test and this is one of the tools.”
The scholarships provide about two years’ worth of full-time community college tuition and can be used at public and private schools in Washington. The actual amount fluctuates based on the number of eligible students. Last year’s recipients got $1,225.
Students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class. Family income cannot exceed 135 percent of the state median income based on family size, which means about $69,000 for a family of four.
The two bills, House Bill 1693 and Senate Bill 5598, would make the program permanent and expand student eligibility to include private school and home-schooled students who pass the state achievement test on the first try, beginning in 2003.
Locke proposed a similar measure last year but faced opposition from the Washington Student Lobby, the state Higher Education Coordinating Board and other education groups. They argued that putting state money toward a new scholarship program would take it away from the state’s need-grant program, which aims to help low-income students afford college.
This year’s proposal reflects a compromise worked out among education interest groups that serves low-income students requesting need-based grants before Promise Scholarship candidates, says Cody Benson of the Washington Student Lobby.


Study: California Gov.’s Scholarship Plan Would
Benefit Mostly Whites and Asians
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A university study of Gov. Gray Davis’ merit scholarship proposal has found that scholarships would mostly go to middle-class Whites and Asians.
The study’s authors say the results suggest there is a political powder keg in the making for Davis — especially among liberals, who say the plan is discriminatory.
The governor’s proposal would provide $1,000 scholarships in 9th, 10th and 11th grades to students who score in the top 10 percent statewide on the standardized STAR test or the top 5 percent of the scores at their school.
The study was backed by civil rights attorneys who believe the scholarship money would be better spent by developing more college prep courses for Blacks and Latinos in inner-city schools. The study’s author analyzed Davis’ proposal by focusing on Santa Monica High School, whose diversity mirrors the rest of California.
Eighty-four of the high school’s 11th-graders who took the STAR test last year scored in the top 10 percent statewide. Of those, 72 were White, nine Asian, two African American and one Latino.
The study, by education professor Jeannie Oakes, did not assess the impact of the second threshold — ranking in the top 5 percent at the school, a measure intended to help counter any inequities. The researchers acknowledge that students who make that cut would be more likely to represent California’s ethnic and economic diversity.
The state estimates that 100,000 students would qualify annually at a cost of about $118 million.
 

NCAA Lessens Requirements for Core Subjects
NEW  YORK — Within a month of winning an appeals court reversal of a decision that would have dismantled the freshmen eligibility standards for college sports, the National Collegiate Athletics Association has decided to lessen the restrictions for core course requirements, according to a story in The New York Times.
The regulations required that high school students complete a 13-course core curriculum and maintain a minimum grade-point average. Critics complained that thousands of high school athletes with excellent grades — including national merit scholars and others with near-perfect GPAs — had athletic scholarships canceled or delayed because of the regulations.
The new rules acknowledge less-conventional courses that can be determined to be as rigorous as the core courses. Many of these newly-accepted courses are offered by charter schools, community colleges and schools on the Internet, as well as by public schools.
The burden of proof as to the courses’ worthiness will lie mainly with principals and guidance counselors. The NCAA says it is confident that high schools officials will guarantee the integrity of the student transcripts.
“We heard what the high schools were saying,” said Bob Oliver, the NCAA’s director of membership services. “We all feel comfortable that this does not compromise the intent of the initial eligibility requirements.”
The changes, which were voted on last month, will affect students applying for college in the fall.
The old regulations date back to 1986. The association estimates that of the 80,000 students who applied to play collegiate sports each year, between 2,800 and 8,400 students had athletic scholarships either delayed or canceled.
This will not, however, alter the scenario for the plaintiffs who sued in Cureton v. NCAA. The association made no alterations in its policy regarding college entrance test score minimums which was upheld by the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in January (see Black Issues, Feb. 3).


Mississippi HBCUs to Get Additional Funding from State Legislature
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s public universities are unlikely to get all of the $95.7 million requested for building upgrades.
House and Senate members have been studying the budget request from the state’s college board. The budget includes $85 million to repair and renovate academic buildings at the universities and a separate request of $10.75 million more for two historically Black universities as part of the state’s college desegregation case.
Legislators say while the amount is justified, it will be difficult to come up with all the money.
“You never get everything you ask for, but they need every penny,” said Rep. Ferr Smith, D-Carthage, a member of the House Universities and Colleges Committee. “We will do as much as we can.”
Mississippi’s eight universities received $70 million for facilities needs from the 1999 Legislature, a 16 percent budget increase. College Board President Ricki Garrett of Clinton says the board’s request to the 2000 Legislature could have been much higher.
“There are tremendous facilities needs,” he said.
This year’s budget includes $10 million for the second phase of Jackson State University’s School of Business and $6 million for the first phase of a project to renovate Colvard Student Union at Mississippi State University.
The University of Southern Mississippi seeks $5 million for renovations, $3.5 million more for general repairs and $500,000 for a music facility on the campus.
In a separate request tied to the desegregation case, Alcorn State would receive $10.5 million to construct a building to house its master’s in business administration program in Natchez. Jackson State would receive $250,000 for developing the design for a School of Engineering facility.     



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