Black Athlete Sports Network CEO, Roland Rogers drives home a point during the company�s inaugural conference held in Philadelphia April 11-13. Photo by Michael Z. Muhammad

PHILADELPHIA (–Organizers hope a controversial symposium on Blacks and athletics, held April 11-13 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, will offer expertise to and voice for those who perform on courts and playing fields.

The forum, sponsored by the Black Athlete Sports Network (, is one of many BASN founder and CEO Roland Rogers plans to host around the country.

“Our focus and goal will remain consistent: To educate our youth, bring the community together, educate our Black athletes (both pro and upcoming), be a resource tool and base, provide stress relief and workshops for pro and college players,” Mr. Rogers told The Final Call.


The conference offered a wide range of topics and workshops, including “Do I Need Representation,” “What Do I look For In a Manager/Team/Coach,” and “How Do I Protect Me and My Family.”

The symposium opened with a workshop geared especially for college and high school athletes. The second day was used to address specific sports interests from basketball to boxing. The final scheduled event was “The Great Debate” about whether college athletes should be paid.

Guests invited to the conference included Gene Upshaw, director of the NFL Players Association, New York Times writer Robert Lipsyte, football greats Jim Brown and Johnny Rodgers, and BASN’s Bobby Ramos.

“This conference has been very informative and necessary,” said Michael Carter, who runs a fledgling sports management business in Philadelphia. “Kids today especially from the inner city who strive to become professional athletes need to be fully aware of the successes and failures and this is what BASN provides,” said Mr. Carter.

“When you look at it in the broad scheme of things, there has to be a forum that addresses the issues of Black athletes. Alot of the mainstream media is not going to focus on the issues we deem important,” said Tony McClean, a BASN sports reporter and a panelist.

“When you look at what the NCAA is doing and has done over the years, and you realize that the majority of players are 80 to 90 percent Black, the relevancy of a conference such as this is all the more apparent,” he said.

The hottest conference forum was scheduled for April 13, with “The Great Debate” that would pit two notable figures in the controversy over pay for college athletes.

Wally Renfro, the National Collegiate Athletic Association director of public relations, and Nebraska state Senator Ernie Chambers were scheduled to debate the issue. Mr. Chambers wants Nebraska’s college football players to be paid, but the NCAA opposes monetary compensation for amateur athletes.

According to Mr. Rogers, Wally Renfro declined to appear at the last moment.

“He has indicated the reason for his withdrawal is that we are playing the race card,” Mr. Rogers said. “What we are trying to do is examine the issue, not from a global perspective, but how this issue affects the African American community at large. We have alot of young men that play alot of Division I football and basketball, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has recently signed a major contract with CBS Sports, and no money at all is going back to the African American community,” said Mr. Rogers.

“We feel it is a travesty that this issue has not been at the forefront of the African American community because it’s almost like servitude,” he continued. Blacks have long been playing intercollegiate sports and making money, but the bottom line is everyone else in the industry gets paid, Mr. Rogers said.

“The coaches land million-dollar contracts; the universities receive tremendous amounts of dollars from corporate sponsors; TV makes a bundle; and it’s all on the backs of these young African American kids,” he said.