The NFL and HBCUs

The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.

The NFL is proud of the legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) on professional football. Throughout the league's history, athletes from HBCUs have exemplified a standard of excellence on and off the field.

NFL Network's Steve Wyche on the impact of HBCUs on the NFL.

In May 2016, the NFL launched Strength of HBCUs, Impacting Pro Football Since 1948 in partnership with two preeminent HBCU athletic conferences — the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

The initiative has since expanded to also include the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

The partnership celebrates and honors the historical impact of HBCUs and their players on the game, and to provide career opportunities in the game of football.

“The NFL’s partnership with HBCUs has deep roots in football’s history,” said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “We’re working together to honor the rich history and provide opportunities to students and administrators from these great institutions.”

The NFL’s partnership with HBCUs works to:

  • Celebrate history. From earning personal accolades, team accomplishments and championships, to positively impacting communities across the country, the rich history of players from HBCUs is woven into the fabric of the NFL.
  • Increase opportunities. Through programs and initiatives across the country, the league celebrates the impact of HBCUs and their players and works to increase opportunities for students and athletic administrators from these institutions.
  • Provide access. Through career forums, workshops, internships and other programs, the NFL provides access to the business of sport and equips HBCU students with the skills needed to work in professional football administration.

As the NFL continues to expand its partnership with HBCUs, NFL Football Operations hosted the inaugural NFL + HBCU Open House in 2020. The Open House brings together stakeholders across the HBCU and football landscape to discuss core Football Operations initiatives and to share best practices for students throughout the calendar year. Administrators from schools in SWAC, MEAC, CIAA, SIAC and NAIA were invited to learn and engage with members of the NFL team and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.