Rayquan Smith is a running back at Virginia State University who has landed dozens of “name, image, likeness” deals. (Photo: Courtesy of Rayquan Smith)
HBCU Spotlight
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A monthly newsletter that explores issues facing historically Black colleges and universities and follows the work of our HBCU Student Journalism Network. By Naomi Harris.

HBCU athletes face ‘name, image, likeness’ endorsement disparities

Fellow Tamilore Oshikanlu recently reported on the barriers HBCU athletes face when pursuing “name, image, likeness” endorsement deals. We co-published her work with Capital B.

Rayquan Smith, a running back at Virginia State University, has successfully navigated this new landscape. But when the NCAA opened the doors to NIL funding for athletes in 2021, that wasn’t the case. Nobody at his university could help him figure things out, and the big deals went to athletes at predominantly white institutions (PWIs).

“We don’t get as much exposure as I think we should,” Smith said.

He’s trying to change that. Smith, who now has dozens of deals, has offered advice to other HBCU athletes. And he wants to establish a team shop where athletes could sell customized apparel to fans.

Read more. 

Apply by Nov. 27

One more reminder that our application is due Nov. 27 for our spring fellowship cohort. This is a paidvirtual, and part-time opportunity for HBCU students who are graduating in May ‘24 or later.

Please spread the word and if you’re an HBCU student journalist, please apply! The application is available hereFAQs are here.

The power of fashion on campus

Fashion has always played an important role on HBCU campuses. It’s a way to express creativity, participate in broader trends like Telfar Tuesday, and command respect. That’s according to a story fellow Rosegalie Cineus wrote recently, which we co-published with Capital B.

Howard University students prepare for the 2023 Homecoming Fashion Show. (Nolan Baynes III/The Hilltop)

Still, even though many HBCU students embrace fashion, it has its limits, according to Morgan Page, a junior at North Carolina A&T. Page draws inspiration from the emo and goth fashion, and doesn’t always feel welcome to show that side on campus.

“It’s like, the emo or goth scene, all that is considered white people’s fashion. If you step into that territory, then all of a sudden, you’re whitewashed, and you’re not proud of your culture, which is not the case,” she said. “We definitely put ourselves in boxes.”

++ We’ve got some great stories in the works! To come: Housing shortages plague HBCU campuses, and the rising costs of car ownership are creating challenges for commuter students.

++ Congrats to fellow Kendal Manns! He recently received a scholarship from the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

Support our work

We hope to grow this program and deepen the training we offer students at HBCUs. Please consider supporting our work. Now through Dec. 31, donations to Open Campus are doubled up to $20,000.

Donate Today

Making connections

Top row: Jasper Smith, Managing Editor for Race & Equity Kayleigh Skinner, Rosegalie Cineus Bottom row: Assistant Editor Wesley Wright, Tatyanna McCray

In addition to telling great stories about HBCUs, our fellowship has two main goals: training fellows to be better journalists and connecting them to professionals around the country.

To that end, we led two training workshops recently that we’d like to tell you about.

  • Daarel Burnette II, senior editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education and Byrhonda Lyons, an investigative reporter at CalMatters — HBCU alumni themselves — joined our fellows to talk about navigating careers in journalism. They shared great advice about building relationships, solving disagreements with editors, and weighing wether or not to go to graduate school.
    • Daarel and Byrhonda are also mentors for two of our fellows this cohort — thanks to both of them for their support!
  • Jasper Smith — who was one of our inaugural fellows last spring and is currently the EIC of the Howard Hilltop — spoke to our fellows this week about making the most of their last month in the program. (That’s right, time has flown by! Dec. 15 is the last day for these fellows.)

Are you interested in speaking to a future group of fellows? Please email us at hbcu@opencampusmedia.org.

Thanks for reading!

Reach out to us at hbcu@opencampusmedia.org.