Is Howard Athletics Really Division 1?

Showers are still running, even if you cannot see them.  If you are nearby, you can hear them, out of four bathrooms stalls, only three work.  Imagine using one of the bathrooms that works and finding out when it is too late that there is not any toilet paper. 

This is the scene of the girl’s locker room at a school with a Division 1 program, Howard University.  Does this sound like a Division 1 program to you?  It does not make sense for this to be the case when the Athletic Director and Assistant Athletic director work upstairs in the same building.  The sad part is, this is only one aspect of this athletic program because there is a lot more. 

At Howard University, student athletes are not treated as they should compared to those at white schools.  Non- HBCU Division 1 programs would never allow the treatment and the facilities that Howard accepts.  When the athletic department was asked to explain the conditions, they responded: "we don’t have enough money for athletics." 

However, it is from strong athletics that a school makes money.  Look at any successful Division 1 school; they can bring in thousands of dollars a year solely on athletics, so it seems to me that by sacrificing money to fix up things, treating athletes how they should be treated and taking athletics more seriously, Howard would actually be doing themselves a favor economically.

The Howard lacrosse team, for example, is not in the Mid Eastern Atlantic Conference, which means they play teams who come from top of the line programs.  It must be quite an embarrassment for Howard athletics to allow these other schools to witness how pitiful our athletic facilities are. 

Anyone with any pride would find this embarrassing.  It seems as though the football and the basketball teams are the only teams on campus that get any type of respect, but even still, there treatment isn’t like the non HBCU schools. 

When asking Howard’s All-American Football player Brandon Torrey if he thought the football team gets treated like a D1 program he said, "No, I don’t think so because a lot of Division 1 programs have a lot better facilities, especially weight rooms, and many schools have a cafeteria for only student athletes.  Howard will give us one pair of shoes, or pants and expect it to last us for all four years, it’s ridiculous." 

At other Division 1 programs, the facilities are top of the line, the school is equipped with a regulation size swimming pool that is clean, a field with field workers who transport the equipment on and off the field, and they supply all of their athletes with warm-ups, shoes, cleats, sweat suits and much more each year.  Trainers are present at each game and practice and are equipped with the latest technology as far as physical training is concerned. 

When asking LeeAnn Zondag a student athlete at James Madison University about the best aspect of athletics at her school, she said, "It would have to be the way the school really cares about us [the student athletes].  If there is anything that we need or want we get it, even though we’re not football, they take care of us."

Many Howard University student athletes do not know what it is like to be taken care of by the university.  Dominique Browner who plays for Howard’s lacrosse team told us the worst experience she has had thus far.  "In the winter when we were playing in the gym, one of our teammates got hurt on a drill.  Once the athletic director (AD) found out she took away our balls for the week because she thought it was an accident due to our lacrosse balls, what a smack in the face!"  Dominique told us that the AD claimed that the balls were too hard to play with. 

Clearly, this shows the ignorance that the athletic department has towards the sport of lacrosse.  To play lacrosse you need lacrosse balls, how can you practice without them, and how could anyone think of taking them away if they really took your program seriously?  Would they take the football away from the football team if they got hurt by it, or perhaps the basketball team would they take their ball away?  The level of respect that each team on campus gets is extremely questionable and unacceptable and leaves us with one question.  Why doesn’t Howard take and treat their athletics seriously?