Talented Black female coaches await their chance



A new U of M Tucker Center report has found that about 75 percent of all collegiate women’s team coaching openings in the last two years has been filled by men. A male coach replaces a male coach in 34 of 66 women’s team vacancies, but in only 10 vacancies does a female replace a female.

The report, titled “Head Coaches of Women’s Collegiate Teams,” shows a “historical decline in the percentage of women head coaches in the 40+ years following the passage of Title IX” in 1974, and graded 76 institutions. Only one, Cincinnati, got an A because 80 percent of the school’s women teams are coached by women. Eight schools got B’s, and 27 schools, including Minnesota, got C’s. D’s were given to 31 schools, and nine others got a failing grade.

Minnesota is one of 12 schools where females (8) outnumber males (7) as women’s team coaches.

A second Tucker Center report, “The Decline of Women Coaches in Collegiate Athletics,” noted nearly a 50-percent decline in female coaches since Title IX was passed, but the law “opened up twice as many coaching opportunities for men. Currently men occupy a majority (80 percent} of the coaching positions in both men’s and women’s college sport.”

Only around 39 percent of all Division I women’s team head coaches are female. “Women are under-represented in big-time college coaching,” says the report. “What can be done to retain and increase the percentage of women who are in the coaching profession?”

But while reading both Tucker Center studies, this columnist asked what about Black female coaches, since no ethnicity numbers were reported.

According to the latest NCAA figures by division (2011-12), Black women head coaches are 3.4 percent in Division I (115), 1.2 percent in Division II (28), and 1.1 percent in Division III (44). Comparably, especially in Division I, these numbers are more than double the 53 total Black female head coaches in all sports in 1996.

Auburn Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy Photo by Charles Hallman
Auburn Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy
Photo by Charles Hallman

Most Black female head coaches, however, are in cross country/track (57), followed by basketball (33) and all other sports (25).

“I think there are a lot of young Black female coaches out here who want to coach,” admitted Auburn Head Women’s Basketball Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. “Like anything, you have to have the opportunity.”

Another Black female head coach, second-year Head Coach Bobbie Kelsey, is scheduled to play her Wisconsin Badgers against Minnesota Thursday at Williams Arena. Like Kelsey, Williams-Flournoy is also in her second season at Auburn, who hired her last year. Both women are former Division I players who previously were longtime assistants at several schools: six for Kelsey, who played at Stanford, and three for Williams-Flourney, who played at Penn State.

But unlike Kelsey, who’s on her first head-coaching job, Williams-Flournoy is in her second after eight years at Georgetown. She told the MSR after the December 22 Gophers-Tigers game that there are capable Black females who could be good coaches if the opportunity arises.

“If you are not given the opportunity, those numbers will continue to stay low,” she said. “There are plenty of opportunities, but the ones making the decisions have to be the ones who think the young Black females or female Black coaches are capable of doing it.

“You hope that the numbers will get better.”

Next in the coaching series: What about a woman coaching a men’s team?

The “Only One” last week attended two outdoor hockey games. Read more on “Another View Extra” on this week’s MSR website.

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