The athletic departments at predominately white institutions routinely score top-tier Black athletic talents via scholarships but one coveted recruit recently flipped that narrative on its head. But it wasn’t just Randolph Ross, one of the nation’s top high school track stars, spurned offers from several so-called several Power 5 schools in favor of a historically Black college (HBCU). It was how he did it that caught the attention of people across social media and beyond.
The star sprinter from North Carolina who is a 4A track MVP and nationally ranked in the 400-meter had a plethora of offers from some of the top universities in the country, including several from “Power 5” conferences — the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC. In a now viral video, Ross can be seen seated in front of signs picturing the logos of Ohio State, South Carolina and Iowa, three of the top track programs on the college level. Before he revealed his choice, Ross told the audience about the privilege he had to be able to choose from multiple offers.
“I had the opportunity to visit a lot of schools and I had the opportunity to have a wide variety of selections,” Ross said.
He then stood up from his seat and began flipping down each of the pictures one-by-one until Ohio State was left standing alone. When the audience began to cheer, Ross flipped the Ohio State picture down as well to open up his jacket and reveal that he was actually going to be attending North Carolina A&T University in the fall.
A&T’s men and women’s outdoor track and field program has begun to gain national recognition as one of the top programs not just within the HBCU conferences, but nationally, as well. Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams were ranked sixth nationally this season. Both teams also recently won their respective conference championships.
Ross’s father, Duane, who is the director of A&T’s track and field program, boasted about how hard the student-athletes worked this past season.
“I’m excited for our kids,” Duane said. ”They have worked hard this season. They understand that high rankings are a projection and the goal is to be NCAA champions.”
With professional sports teams usually recruiting from white universities, which also typically have more resources and overall exposure, sometimes HBCUs are not a top-tier athlete’s first choice. But Ross’ decision to attend A&T, along with HBCU athletes winning competitive titles, proves there is strong, slept on talent at Black colleges.