Amongst the wave of historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country receiving an outpour of fiscal support is Morgan State University. The Baltimore-based school was granted a $2.7 million endowment to revive its wrestling program.
The donation is historic as it marks the largest gift the university’s athletic department has ever received. The institution has a storied wrestling legacy that is embedded in the fabric of the school’s history. Morgan State University’s wrestling team, founded during the early 1950s, solidified themselves as top contenders in the sport, winning several competitions, including three consecutive Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) titles in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
Under the guidance of coach James Phillips, during the 1970s, the Bears won 13 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles. During his time at Morgan State, he coached over 75 All-American athletes. The team was dismantled during the 1996–97 season due to limited resources.
Thanks to the support of HBCU Wrestling (HBCUW)—an initiative that has a mission rooted in expanding the presence of historically Black colleges and universities within the sport—former hedge fund manager and philanthropist Mike Novogratz, and the nonprofit organization Beat the Streets, the HBCU is on a mission to continue the legacy of excellence within wrestling. The $2.7 million will fund the program and go towards the creation of scholarships.
“Morgan as an institution is predicated on expanding opportunities, promoting equity and creating access, and by way of this generous gift, we will be able to resurrect a program that opened the door for so many young men to bask in the promise and experience the magic of education,” President of Morgan State University David K. Wilson, Ed.D., said in a statement. “Historically, Morgan has served as home to a nationally competitive, championship-caliber wrestling program, producing numerous national champions in the sport. We embrace this opportunity of being the only HBCU nationwide offering a D1 varsity wrestling program, and we invite those seeking a competitive athletic experience in this sport, and a world-class education, to consider Morgan State University.”
The endowment comes at a time when there are no other HBCUs that have Division I wrestling teams.