Historically Black Bethune-Cookman University Wins Golf Tournament With Team of White Women

The Professional Golfers Association recently held its Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The tournament, which was founded in 1987, is open to teams from Historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities.

This year the champion in the women’s division was Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman has won the tournament in two of the last three years and nine times overall.

Bethune-Cookman has an overall student enrollment that is 94.3 percent Black. But not one member of the university’s women’s golf team is an African American. Half of the team is from Europe.

JBHE is interested in hearing from readers on this issue. Coaches in any sport want to win and they seek out the athletes who will give them the best chance of doing so. But should HBCUs field teams in sports where all the athletes are likely to be White or should resources be spent on other sports or other activities which better serve their historical mission?

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Comments (17)

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  1. Asha Louis says:

    I do not see a problem with this. Majority schools are not scrutinized for having the majority of their basketball and football players being black! There is nothing wrong with having an all european, non-black team.

    • I agree with Asha Louis – moreover, I feel that “just looking at this photo” should encourage young African American women at Bethune-Cookman to become interested. The photo should say something to the majority students on the campus. PERHAPS, one of them may become the next Althea Gibson!

  2. KJ says:

    Though I would like for all HBCU teams to be African-American only, that just would not be right. It a non-black student wants to come to an HBCU and participate in sports, we should welcome them. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It is amazing that these talented women would even want to come to an HBCU. I commend these young women. I am sure it is not easy for them.

  3. Disappointed says:

    I am disappointed that the editors of JBHE would even consider posting a question such as the one in the last paragraph. Suggesting that a sport be removed at an HBCU because it only has non-Black members is ludicrous. Having and supporting a diverse population at HBCUs is essential to the success and education of the student body.

    • Editor says:

      We agree entirely with your statement on diversity. However, these are difficult financial times for many HBCUs. And intercollegiate sports cost a lot of money and in most cases do not pay their own way. HBCUs, and other educational institutions as well, cannot field teams in all sports. Decisions must be made as to what is the best allocation for a limited amount of dollars. Our question, “Should HBCUs field teams in sports where all the athletes are likely to be White or should resources be spent on other sports or other activities which better serve their historical mission?” was meant to raise the issue for discussion. We are not advocating that HBCUs drop women’s golf programs or any other programs. Indeed the preliminary results of our poll on the issue finds that most readers believe that these sports should not be cut. But to criticize us for bringing up the matter for discussion is unwarranted. Isn’t the academic world about a free and open exchange of ideas on a wide variety of topics?

  4. Be says:

    I graduated from an HBCU over 40 years ago and golfing was not an option. Didn’t start playing golf until I was 37 years old. Realized then that I had missed out on a lot of fun and socialization. I’m sure there are black students at this school that will have the same regrets even though they have the opportunity.

  5. Charlotte says:

    Progress! There were times when blacks didn’t get the recognition they deserved when we did things at predominately white institutions. We can’t deny these students their moment under the spotlight either, no matter what their nationalities, or countries of origin. Schools should be about education and all the experiences that go with it, no matter what the composition is of your student body.

    We are people living in a world that is getting smaller and smaller due to technology and hopefully knowledge.

    Maybe the concern should be, “Why haven’t we exposed enough African American or Hispanic females to golf that they’d want to be on the golf team and have the skills to do so?”

  6. Ed Bell, EdD says:

    “JBHE is interested in hearing from readers on this issue.”

    There is no issue. I am sure the sport is open to black women. The issue/concern is best answered in black communities!

  7. Bernard says:

    So, in your opinion, they should just cancel the sport because no black women play golf? If white students can enroll in the college, then white students can play inter-collegiate sports, and represent *their* university.

    Furthermore, have you not heard of Title IX, the federal requirement that schools offer equal access between mens and womens sports? They can’t just stop funding for one team, because either white students are the only representatives or because they supposedly have funding challenges, without having to discontinue funding for a mens sport.

    • Editor says:

      If you read the item and other comments you will see that we are not advocating that Bethune-Cookman, or any other university, “cancel the sport because no Black women play golf.” We merely posed the question to readers asking their opinion on whether, given the historical mission of these universities and the limited financial resources available to them, such programs are the best allocation of their limited funds. We are not advocating one position or another but rather asking readers to consider the pros and cons. Surely there is no harm in an open discussion.

      Your comment implies that White women are simply “enrolling at the university and deciding to play golf.” In all probability they are actively recruited in Europe and elsewhere and brought in at considerable expense. This raises a legitimate question of resource allocation.

      Title IX has nothing to do with it. There is no requirement that a college field a particular team, only that women have an equal opportunity to participate in intercollegiate sports. Bethune-Cookman, or any other university could meet its Title IX requirements without fielding a women’s golf team. For example, at Bethune Cookman there are no women’s swimming, diving, field hockey, ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, water polo, or fencing teams at the university. At Bethune-Cookman there are intercollegiate teams in eight sports for women and seven for men.

      • R. Tribue says:

        Dear Editor,
        I do so like an open-discussion to enlighten and also give way to a new perspective of things. While I am in agreement with growth through diversity and renewing our ‘Roots’, it is also important to understand that you cannot walk forward if you have your head facing backwards, so to speak. The writers of most of the replies have not considered this method.
        Are we to allow non-African American enrollment at HBCUs but not allow these students the freedom to join a team or start a club, because it may have no African American members? Hogwash, I say!
        Alcorn State University has a caucasian head coach of the football team, the first in the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Association) I don’t see anyone asking for president Brown’s resignation or explanation. We feel good when a black becomes head coach of a NFL team, NBA team and a white state college or university, black players on this white sports team.
        These HBCUs are diversified with their staffing, why not benchmark that too. Dr. Martin L. King said
        “they will not be judge by the color of their skin but the content of their character”, so why have this discussion on competent players, because the funds that spend on this small sport and few people is the amount that could build a parking garage for the 3000+ students at BC-U, adequate parking is needed for students, badly or an updated meal hall, maybe scholarships for 7-10 local academics high achievers to add to the our nation’s professional ranks; which 20% are African American professionals educated at HBCUs. This is a lot to think about when HBCUs are diversifying in new areas.
        Thank you Mr. Editor for inquiring topic; but while HBCUs are and will be historically Black institutions,diversity removes predominance.

  8. John Hollon says:

    You keep defending your position- the question would have been better left un-asked… longtime resident of Daytona

  9. I am certain that the question was for the purpose of creating dialog however since you focused on Bethune-Cookman University ONLY, are we to assume that Bethune-Cookman University is the only HBCU that has teams where the players are all or mostly from ethnic groups other than black?
    Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a black woman who believed in open access for all people. B-CU has always been open to other cultures and ethnic groups, from its founding. Unlike many other HBCUs, B-CU was never a “land grant” school, started to keep black students separate from whites. Founded by Dr. Bethune to educate black girls, it never excluded educating white girls. Today we have students from several foreign countries and have always had a diverse student population. Why not have sports that are also diverse? No one is stopping black females from participating and maybe as the program expands, some of our golf team members will be African American as well. In the meantime, we celebrate our students from all backgrounds, which is what Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune imagined when she founded this University in 1904.

  10. Kay says:

    So what is the big deal? The question didn’t need to be asked.

    • R. Tribue says:

      This is just an open discussion not a back-lash of the team. The team has competent players and a great record. This is only about a view of utilizing funds to the greatest long-term benefits for the institution and community.

  11. Scott Cookman says:

    With my surname placed in a search engine and 90% of the results are successful black men and women hailing from B-CU, I was bound to come across this article sooner or later. I am a white male that was never directly exposed to racism until I joined the military. When people would ask me to describe anyone and I would describe everything except color, which made several people angry. I even made sure my children treated everyone equally and I believe that they are a step in the right direction.

    Unless all particulars about why they chose to go to B-CU should have been asked as a great question to ask as it was just the other day I saw in a highlight segment where I saw a white player on a team I thought for sure was a mistake from the announcer. I don’t recall anyone making any big deal over it.

    Now I know what you’re thinking, but I have never considered myself as white. It has made me angry every time I fill out a form and the section on ethnicity only has white or caucasian. My ancestors are from the United Kingdom and because of this I always where possible write in “North American”, because that is the continent I was born on.

    I hope that there comes the day when I can say that our history books are the only place where there is racism. I am proud that my surname is on the halls of B-CU campuses, for the simple reason that they have gotten past racial segregation. I applaud you Bethune-Cookman University for standing for broadening collegiate sports and this article definitely sparked the debate. Maybe I will even spark debate over this comment, but it all starts with talking about it.

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