Deion Sanders HBCU Gameday

Deion Sanders, HBCU leaders on most influential in College Football list

The four HBCU NCAA conference commissioners, Deion Sanders, and others made this top 20 list.

Sports Illustrated just dropped a new list of the most influential Black Figures in College Football, and it includes former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders as well as other HBCU figures.

Deion Sanders was named no. 1 on the list, which was issued on Monday. Sanders, of course, got his first head coaching job at Jackson State. He led JSU to back-to-back titles in his only full seasons at the SWAC school before accepting a job at the University of Colorado. While at Jackson State he also flipped the number one prospect in the country, grabbing Travis Hunter away from Florida State. 

Martin Jarmond, the eighth name on the list, is currently AD at UCLA. However, he’s the son of HBCU alumni (North Carolina Central) and he’s the man that brokered UCLA’s two games against HBCUs — Alabama State in 2022 and North Carolina Central in 2023. UCLA’s men’s volleyball team also took on two HBCU programs from the SIAC last spring.

Deion Sanders Jackson State SWAC Media Day

The four commissioners of the NCAA conferences made up of HBCUs — Jacqie McWilliams Parker (CIAA), Charles F. McClelland (SWAC), Anthony Holloman (SIAC), Sonja Stills (MEAC) — were ranked 10th through 13th on the list. The post noted the recent acknowledgment that the four leagues plan to work together more closely moving forward regarding scheduling and economic advancement.

No. 17 on the list is John T. Grant. The North Carolina A&T graduate is the Executor of the Celebration Bowl, the ESPN Events-owned bowl game between the MEAC and SWAC that generally determines the HBCU national championship. Grant also oversees the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, which has become the official kickoff to the HBCU football season.

HBCU Gameday founder Steven J. Gaither comes in at no. 18 on the list. 

Deion Sanders, HBCU leaders on most influential in College Football list
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