Are 22 Black hires out of 250 vacancies a ‘shinning example of change?’
There were only five coaches of color in 2007 — this season there’s 19.
“I believe it is one of the shining examples of positive change on the landscape of intercollegiate sport in recent times as it pertains to diversity and inclusion efforts,” said BCA Executive Director Floyd Keith in a press release.
“The BCA Hiring Report Card works,” adds Dr. Richard Lapchick, the report’s primary author. “Last season alone, 10 African Americans were hired at the end of [last season].”
As much as I respect both Keith and Lapchick for their endless work, I’m having a hard time seeing these shining examples of positive change, especially when there have been only 51 coaches of color ever hired as head coaches. Especially when there are only 17 Blacks at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools and before Norriss Wilson was recently fired at Columbia, only seven Blacks this season at Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools.
Since the first report card in 2004, a total of 22 Blacks were hired as head football coaches. However, there have been 250 vacancies — 157 at FBS schools and 93 at FCS schools — during this same timeframe. This also includes two openings at the University of Minnesota.
The BCA reports that after Willie Jeffries was hired at Wichita State in 1979, there have been 42 Black head coaches at FBS schools, but only 19 Blacks hired between 1979 and 2002. Therefore, if my diversity math calculator is correct, one Black coach is hired as head coach for every 100 or so openings.
Furthermore, when you can historically list all the coaches of color on one page — actually a page and a fourth — it’s hard to see this as progress.
On that same list, complied by Dr. Fitzgerald Hill, a former Black head coach at San Jose State (2001-04), only five Black coaches — Dennis Green, Tyrone Willingham, Ron Cooper, Turner Gill and Mike Haywood — have been rehired at least once. Save for the seven hired to start this season, it’s been one and done for the others.
Then, as White coaches usually get multiple opportunities to get on that coaching rehiring carousal, Blacks — with the five aforementioned exceptions — aren’t allowed to ride. This looks like Jim Crow, college football style.
Inasmuch as the BCA annually issue grades to those schools who seemingly realize that there indeed are coaches of color who can be more than an assistant, or in many cases, a longtime assistant, and run a program, the organization rarely discusses that it is too often Blacks and other coaches of color who are hired at schools with little or no gridiron success, or have bottomed out in such a way that hiring a Black man becomes a last-resort move.
(Isn’t this similar to what happened in 2008 when a Black man was elected U.S. president — I’m not saying, but you know what I’m saying.)
“One of the main criteria for progress is where people of color are being hired as coaches,” this year’s BCA report states, noting that just two seasons ago there were no Black coaches in the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 or SEC. This year, there are two Black head coaches in the ACC, Pac-12 and the SEC respectively, while the Big 12 and Big East each has one Black head coach.
The Big Ten hasn’t had a Black coach since Bobby Williams was fired at Michigan State in 2002, and Northwestern remains the only conference school ever to hire two Black head coaches (Green and Francis Peay) in its history.
As with the seven previous cards, the 2011 BCA report card examines and grades four areas: communication, search committee, final candidates and hiring search timeframe. It is based on the data collected by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) from each predominately White FBS and FCS school that filled a head coaching vacancy.
“The BCA Football Hiring Report Card clearly is an important tool to assure accountability in the hiring process,” states this year’s report. “The purpose…each year is to have an objective measurement that quantifies the four major categories that are used in hiring practices.”
However, instead of grading schools that do hire, or at least interview Blacks for head coaching jobs, why not put on Front Street those schools, such as Minnesota, who have yet to cross the intersections of diversity and inclusion, and into the land of progress. A little shame and blame doesn’t hurt anyone. Doing this annually might prompt some schools to truly retool its diversity efforts.
Even better, let’s examine why Black head coaches, once getting the job, gets stuck on the one-and-done train.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org