Top 10 HBCUs To Develop Professional Athletes

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have not only prided themselves in developing some of the brightest and most skilled students in the classrooms. They have also developed some of the top student-athletes in the country. Many of these athletes going on to become well-established professional athletes in their respective sport.

In recent years, though, there has been a gap created between the student-athlete from a black college going to the professional stage.

According to The Maroon Tiger, “Some of the NFL’s greatest talent has come from the HBCUs top conferences, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Although these conferences were once hotbeds for NFL scouts, they now have extreme trouble getting the prospects that they once enjoyed. With HBCUs struggling to keep producing talent, it’s been hard for them to keep up with major Division 1 programs.”

I have comprised a list of the schools that have been “spearheading” the development of professional athletes over the years, the Top 10 list shown below is based upon the number of athletes in the sports (NBA, NFL, MLB, Olympics, and Canadian League) within the past four decades.

(The data used in this author’s post is based on information provided by The Maroon Tiger article “HBCUs: The Forgotten Source of Great Athletes,” and several sources from black college athletics websites.)

North Carolina A&T

The Aggies of NCA&T snag the No. 10 spot with 21 professional athletes coming out of their program. The Aggies have a rich history in their athletics program with Al Attles being one of the first African-American coach in NBA. Former NFL Player and Coach Dwaine Board also has drawn his name in history. During his time playing for the San Franscisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, he became a 4-time Super Bowl Champion.

Bethune Cookman University

Bethune Cookman has things heating up on the other side of the country. With 43 professional athletes coming out of their program, Bethune Cookman has earned the No. 9 spot on the list. Alumni include Cy McClairen who was Bethune-Cookman’s first alumnus in the NFL for 5 season and then went on the become head basketball coach and Athletics Director at the school.

Prairie View A&M

Prairie View is making their name known in Texas. Prairie View has developed 43 professional athletes while in their program making the Panthers No. 8 on the list. Alumni Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is a former WNBA player, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, published author and Head Coach of the USC Women’s basketball team. During her time at USC, she lead the Troy Women to it’s first PAC-12 Championship.

Morgan State University

The Bears of Morgan State has been working to be the best and it’s showing. Sitting at No. 7 with 45 professional athletes coming of it’s program. Morgan State has a history of developing Olympians in its program. Josh Culbreath won Bronze at the Olympics in 400m hurdles, Jack Pierce winning Bronze in the 110 Hurdles at the Olympics, and Rochelle Stevens winning Bronze in the 4x400m relay in the Olympics as well.

Alcorn State University


Alcorn State is making it know they aren’t the only school in Mississippi that has quality. Alcorn State sits at No. 6 with 50 Professional Athletes coming out of their program. One of them being Iris Kyle, who was a 10-time overall Ms. Olympia professional bodybuilder. The Men of Alcorn State Football Team this past season won the East Region SWAC Championship as well as the Postseason Championship.

South Carolina State University


South Carolina State has been under the radar but still makes sure to create star players every season coming in at No. 5 on the list. They have developed 58 professional athletes out of their program alone. Their roster includes a number of talented NFL athletes from Philip Adams to Rafael Bush to Barney Bussy and list goes on.

Texas Southern University


Texas Southern has proved to be no slouch either. At No. 4 on the list, the Tigers has produced 62 Athletes going on to become Professional Athletes including current Football Analyst on FOX, actor, and Talk Show host on Live! with Michael and Kelly Michael Strahan. As well as Baltimore Ravens Corner back Tray Walker, who recently passed away in a motorcycle accident. Condolences to the Walker family.

Southern University A&M

Southern University has also earned the No. 3 spot on the list with 83 athletes going on to become Professional Athletes, 73 of them being NFL athletes. Alumni Avery Johnson, paved the way in the rich history of Southern Basketball. After an amazing tenure at Southern, Johnson went on to become the 1999 NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs, 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, Inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame and now serves as Head Coach of the University of Alabama Men’s Basketball. The Men of Southern University recently won the SWAC Championship title over Jackson State.

Jackson State University


THEE I Love! Jackson State not too far behind the number one spot coming in at No. 2 on the list with an incredible total amount of 103 professional athletes, 92 of those athletes going on to the NFL. Former NCAA Champion, All-American Honoree, Olympian Michael Tinsley stamped himself into JSU History becoming a silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics, followed by silver medal at the 2013 World Championship.

Grambling State University

The Black & Gold of Louisiana hails as the No. 1 sports program at a black college with an outstanding 119 professional athletes to come out of their school. What’s more surprising and commendable is that 110 of those athletes went on to the NFL. One of their notable athletic alumni includes Doug Williams, former Superbowl Champion with the Washington Redskins and Superbowl MVP.

Kyle Kidd-Buckner

Kyle Kidd-Buckner is a 21-year-old, Graduating Senior Mass Communication major from Los Angeles, CA with emphasis in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Political Science at Jackson State University. He is a proud brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. initiated Spring 2017 into the Delta Phi Chapter where he serves as Associate Editor of The Sphinx. Spring of 2017, Kyle was appointed to the position of Executive President for the Campus Activities Board for the 2017-2018 Academic School year completing his tenure January 2018. He has served as an Author for HBCUBuzz and Collegiate Sports Editor of Black Beat Sports with stories also featured in 7 Hues Magazine and DoerHouse LLC. He currently interns at The Meme Agency as a Public Relations Intern and BYOBSociety as a Marketing Intern and serves as Managing Editor for Watch The Yard. Kyle aims to become a expert in all things media. He was the 2016 National Conference on Student Leadership Scholarship Recipient representing Jackson State in Orlando, FL. Kyle recently Co-Author his first book, "Grown and Gone" a book created to assist high school seniors with their transition into their first independent year as college student. Kyle lives by the life mantra, "I trust the next chapter, because I know the Author..."