‘Mostly White hiring’ remains the unspoken rule in college athletics

 TIDES Director Richard Lapchick
TIDES Director Richard Lapchick

Sometimes an apology is worse than whatever it was intended to make amends for.  Take the case of Texas billionaire and former Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs.

McCombs twice opened his mouth last week with somewhat controversial results.  He first told a San Antonio radio station that the new University of Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong would “make a good position coach, maybe a coordinator.”

Later that same week, McCombs apologized and told a San Antonio newspaper that he didn’t think his comments about Strong were racial. Strong is one of only 12 Black Division I head football coaches that started and finished the recent 2013 season.

“I didn’t even think about that,” added McCombs. “I’m not sure I knew anything about the race issue…”

What do you expect from an 80-something White man? He simply was being honest, operating from his worldview on hiring head football coaches, whether college or pro.  McCombs has been culturally conditioned for a long time: White coaches are superior and Black coaches are inferior, and the manifestation of this is that Black coaching accomplishments and experience is underestimated, undervalued and marginalized.

Strong has been a college coach for almost 30 years, including 11 years as a defensive coordinator (South Carolina and Florida), an assistant head coach, and an interim head coach before he ran the Louisville football program for three years.

What should have instead been more discussed is just how powerful and influential boosters with big bucks like McCombs are in college athletics, especially big-time football. However, the complicit mainstream media (CMs) typically skirt such “out of their lane” reporting, preferring instead to blow “information bubbles” like Lawrence Welk.

Both local daily newspapers are perfect examples: Both publications combined devoted a total of nine paragraphs on their respective sports brief sections last week on Richard Lapchick’s latest college leadership report that again shows a mainly White and male environment.

The January 2 report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida noted that “the one significant position that showed an increase” was White head football coaches at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, a three-percent growth last year, while the number of Black football coaches showed a two percent decrease during the same time.

Even with Strong now at Texas, and Penn State last weekend hiring James Franklin, the “Black 12” did not change.

Whites meanwhile hold 341 of 382 campus leadership positions (president, athletics director, faculty athletic reps, faculty and coaches). Lapchick told the Associated Press that even the “key feeder jobs” for the above positions are over 90 percent White, which keeps the likelihood of more diversity in the slim and none category. “There isn’t a true feeder system at most schools,” he reported.

The TIDES director strongly advocates an “Eddie Robinson Rule,” modeled after the NFL’s Rooney Rule, requiring schools to interview at least one Black or other person of color for leadership openings. “I think it’s more of the ‘old boys’ network than it is a racial thing,” Lapchick said.

I don’t see such a rule ever being enacted at many schools, including the University of Minnesota, because it would finally make them confess that they have been practicing unconscious bias. Instead, athletics officials at these schools prefer parroting their “we look for the best candidate” responses whenever their mostly White hiring moves are challenged by this columnist.


Next: Are women coaches of women sports teams disappearing?

For more on Richard Lapchick’s “Eddie Robinson Rule” proposal, read “Another View Extra” on this week’s MSR website.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.