It’s black history month, and to celebrate, HBCU Gameday will be higlighting the milestones of student-athletes, coaches and teams from HBCUs. We kick things off with the list of the top five basketball programs in The MEAC.
|Larry Springs (Howard Yearbook 1980)
(tie) 5. Howard
Conference Titles: 3 (’80, ’81, ’92)
Notable Players: Larry Spriggs, John Spencer
Despite having only three conference titles, Howard has appeared in 1/3 of the conference’s championship games, with a 3-12 record. The Bison appeared in every MEAC Championship Game from 1978 to 1987, winning its first two titles behind Larry Springs in 1980 and 1981, and finishing second to North Carolina A&T an excrutiating eight times during that span. They’ve only made it back to championship game twice since then, winning in 1992 and losing a decade later.
(tie) 5. Morgan State
Conference Titles: 3 (’76, ’09, ’10)
NCAA Titles: 1 (1974-Division II)
Notable Players: Marvin Webster
Morgan State has just three MEAC conference titles, but it does have the conference’s only national title. Morgan won the 1974 College Division (Division II) Championship by future first round NBA Draft pick Marvin Webster. After being largely irrelevant for the 80s and 90s, the program returned to prominence when it hired Todd Bozeman. From 2008 through 2014, Morgan State played in all but one MEAC Championship Game. The Bears won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 in Winston-Salem.
4. South Carolina State
Conference Titles: 5 (’89, ’96, ’98, ‘2000, ’03)
Notable Players: Travis Williams, Roderick Blakney
South Carolina State has reputation as a football school, but it had a pretty good 15 year stretch, winning five conference titles during that time.
Conference Titles: 5 (’01, ’02, ’06, ’11, ’15)
Notable Players: Tarvis Williams, Rashad West
Hampton is a relatively new addition to the MEAC, coming over from the CIAA in 1995 after being a founding member in 1912. They’ve now got more MEAC titles in 20 years than they had in the CIAA. They’re best known for their 2001 team that beat Iowa State, but they’ve won MEAC titles under several different coaches.
2. Coppin State
Conference Titles: (’90, 91, ’93, ’97, ’08)
NCAA Tournament Wins: 1 (1997)
Notable Players: Larry Stewart, Terquin Mott, Tywain McKee
Coppin joined the MEAC in 1985. A year later, they hired Fang Mitchell as their coach. Within five years, Mitchell turned his team into the cream of the MEAC. Coppin dominated the 1990s, appearing in all but three MEAC championship games during the decade. And who could forget their upset of South Carolina in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, becoming the first no. 15 seed to beat a no. 2 seed.
A decade later, the Eagles did it again, riding an incredible stretch by guard Tywain McKee to an upset over crosstown rival Morgan State in Raleigh back in 2008.
1. North Carolina A&T
Conference Titles: 16 (’72, ’73, ’75, ’77, ’78, ’79,’82, ’83, ’84, ’85, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’94, ’95, ’13)
Notable Players: James Sparrow, Joe Binion, Erick Boyd,
They’ve only won one title in the last 20 years—only played in two championship games actually— but still, when it comes to MEAC basketball, North Carolina A&T has set the bar. From 1972 through 1988, A&T won all but four tournaments. For nearly two full decades, you could pencil in A&T in the MEAC Championship, and they’d get you there.