But there have been setbacks; some still resist transparent coaching searches
The Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA) recently released its 2011-12 “Hiring Report Card for NCAA, FBS and FCS Football Head Coaching Positions.”
According to the BCA, there has been a 600-percent increase in the number of Black coaches at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) from three to an all-time high of 18 at the start of this season. Other good news: The most Black hires ever as head football coaches (28, 61 percent) have occurred in the nine years since the first BCA report card was published.
Since the card’s release, Purdue hired its first-ever Black head football coach, and two Black-coached teams faced each other for this year’s Mid American Conference championship, while another (Louisville’s Charlie Strong) finished as a co-champion in his conference.
“We have a lot of [Black] coaches being successful,” boasted BCA Executive Director Floyd Keith during a phone interview with the MSR.
The bad news, however, is that only six Blacks were hired during the 2011-12 hiring cycle out of 39 openings. And two Black coaches have been dismissed, including Jon Embree in Colorado after just two seasons.
“I thought we fell off” in hiring Black coaches in college football, Keith noted of last year’s developments.
The Embree firing has been discussed at some length — Keith says he’s been contacted for comment about it from other outlets. “I think it was a miscalculated choice” by Colorado administrators, he stated. “When you only give the guy two years and his predecessor had five and [did not] have a winning season, I think [Embree] was due more consideration than that. You can’t build a program in two years because you end up playing with freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores that weren’t your choices.
“And if you are playing with the players who were left [by the previous coach],” Keith continued, “and they weren’t good enough to win then,” how could school officials expect otherwise from a new coach? “I think the bottom line is…Colorado administratively would say behind closed doors that they make a mistake and did not anticipate the ramifications.”
With men’s basketball and women’s basketball hiring cards released last month, the BCA football report completes the organization’s diversity analysis trilogy. Asked if colleges and universities are now expecting the annual checkups or if there is still some resistance to having transparent coaching searches, Keith responded, “I don’t think it’s too difficult to pick up a phone and make a phone call [to the BCA].
Seemingly it is — one FBS school received an “F” (Texas A&M), and two Football Championship Series schools got failing grades (Montana and South Dakota). Texas A&M got an automatic F even though they hired a Black coach (Kevin Sumlin), because they elected not to participate in the study. Arkansas was not penalized for not participating because they hired an interim coach for 2012.
“A good majority of our schools participate [in the BCA study] and are active participants in the process,” said Keith. “Some people don’t feel obligated to do it, and that’s their choice.”
Still, there are some who question the importance of BCA report cards and don’t see keeping a consistent light shown on diversity in college coaching hiring as important. These critics usually don’t have a clue about diversity or it will never be a top priority for them.
“We must continue this work to ensure a commitment on the institutional level towards growing opportunities for diverse populations in intercollegiate athletics,” wrote BCA President Carol Owens in this year’s football report card.
“I think sports are a reflection of society,” concluded Keith. “If you look at the culture of our country today from a broader perspective, a diverse and inclusive population elected our president. When you look at sports, the fact that the leadership does not represent the participants still begs for advocacy. We still have to speak [out until] our representation reflects participation. We still have to have a voice in this.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.