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N.C. A&T’s Rod Broadway on the responsibility and burden for HBCU coaches

The coach says the system we have isn’t working


“Don’t do anything that’s gonna embarrass your mother.”

That’s the rule that governs all rules for North Carolina A&T State University’s football coach Rod Broadway. He smiles as he talks with a reflective tone, but you know he’s dead serious.

“[That rule] covers an umbrella of stuff,” Broadway said. “When I went to school, I didn’t want to make Ms. Broadway mad.”

Broadway has an easy laugh, but underneath that quick wit is a stern side, a side players say comes out in private, followed by a collective hush. Having been on the sidelines for 38 seasons, including 13 as a head coach, Broadway has just about seen it all.

Quick to give his assistants credit for his success, Broadway downplays having won a Black College Football National Championship at each of his head coaching stops, including North Carolina Central University (2006), Grambling State University (2008) and N.C. A&T (2015). His latest Black College Football National Championship and conference title came after the Aggies completed the 2015 season 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and won the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, largely on the strength of his record-setting star running back Tarik Cohen.

Success is great — Broadway’s 105-41 career record speaks to that. But things aren’t the way they used to be — not in 2016 America. Coaches can’t just rest on X’s and O’s and call it a day; they have to hold sessions with their teams about what to say when you’re pulled over. What to wear. How to wear it. And, making sure you do everything you can to get home safely.

“I have sons and grandsons. Right now, it’s a bad time for all us. I have 90 [players] … it’s a huge responsibility. The system we have isn’t working. Maybe we need to bring in guys with college degrees … maybe rethink how we train our policemen,” Broadway said. “I just hope somehow, some way we come together. Both sides are dying now. We can’t continue to have people continue killing each other and nothing gets done.”

In a candid conversation with The Undefeated, Broadway openly talked about the difference between coaching at a historically black college or university (HBCU) vs. a predominantly white institution (PWI), the struggles HBCUs face relative to resources and funding, and even finishing out his contract at N.C. A&T, which would give him 40 seasons as a coach.

This video was produced by Caleb Wilkerson

Mark W. Wright is a Charlotte-based sports journalist and documentarian.