The network of HBCU’s has been in competition with Division I schools in the nation for athletic talent, losing out due to lack of visibility and resources. The latter is allegedly why star student athlete Hercy Miller, with the backing of his father Percy “Master P” Miller, has just made the decision to leave Tennessee State.
The 19-year old had famously committed to the Nashville, Tennessee-based HBCU earlier in the year (and CassiusLife profiled Hercy and his famous dad for a few cover stories, doing so despite overtures from other notable colleges such as LSU, Arizona State, Howard University, and UCLA. At the time, Master P backed the move heavily, seeing it as a way to “level the playing field” when it came to HBCUs and recruitment of Black student-athletes. But in TSU’s first game against Alabama State on November 9, Miller sustained an injury to his hip. He was cleared to play by the school’s medical staff and logged nine minutes in the next game against Norfolk State. The guard then played seventeen minutes against Fisk University.
Still concerned about the extent of the injury, TSU sent Hercy to a doctor who diagnosed that he needed to sit out six months to let the injury heal. Master P then took him to a specialist who provided a shocking analysis. “The specialist said if we would have waited any longer he probably wouldn’t have been able to play basketball anymore because next his ACL was going to go out and all other kinds of injuries,” he explained when contacted by The Tennessean. “That’s when I said I have to bring awareness to what’s going on at all these HBCUs — underfunding with no resources. I’m going to be with all the HBCU programs to bring awareness to this but I’m not going to sacrifice my son’s career and his future.”
When asked to elaborate, he stated: “We’ve got a great program at Tennessee State. We’ve got great people [and] we loved the culture—we just don’t have enough trainers,” he said.
Trevor Searcy, the director of sports medicine at TSU, disagrees with Master P’s assessment. “The issue is not that we’re underfunded at all; it’s actually the opposite,” Searcy said. “The issue is that since [athletics director Mikki Allen] has been here, we’ve been growing, and when you grow, your facilities have to grow as well. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing now.”
Allen said of the questions about the medical staff: “What it looks like in the HBCU space, Master P has been on other campuses and what it looks like there it might not look like here so I can’t speak on that.”
The athletic department went on to declare that their sports medicine department has seven full-time medical employees, and isn’t understaffed when compared to other schools of their size. In an interview with Blavity, Master P saw his decision and the rationale behind it as justified. “How can we help HBCUs if we’re going to sugarcoat the truth?” he asked. “What do we need to fundraise for if staff members are saying we have everything we need? Then we are failing the next generation.”
Even with the current situation, he still didn’t rule out Hercy making a return to TSU despite entering the transfer portal. Master P also said that Hercy’s NIL deal, in which he agreed to a $2 million name, image, likeness sponsorship deal with Web Apps America after signing with TSU, is still valid as long as he remains a collegiate athlete.