I never attend an introductory press conference without my sixth sense, third eye and third ear. Without it, this columnist could not decipher such adjectives as “best” and “right fit” that always are used when a non-Black coach is introduced.
The “White” adjectives flowed like maple sap April 8, when Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague introduced new Gopher Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings at Williams Arena. He proudly told the assembled media,
including the MSR, that Stollings’ hiring is the result of tapping “a very deep and diverse talent pool.”
However, during the Q&A session, when the MSR asked Teague if his “pool” also included Black candidates, it looked like he was mentally scratching his head in search of the right response: “Charles, I don’t want to go too deep into where and who we interviewed,” disclosed Teague. “I’m not sure I can tell you right now. We reached out — it was a deep and diverse field…”
During our first interview with him a couple of years ago, Teague boldly told us that diversity “is high on my radar.” Apparently that radar has been on the fritz, since all of his eight top hires, including two basketball coaches, are White.
In baseball terms, Teague’s non-diversity batting average is 1.000, or zero-for-eight in Black hires.
If Stollings is the best woman for the job, we can accept that. What’s not acceptable is when a so-called national search that barely lasted a week seemingly didn’t include a single Black candidate for serious consideration. If Teague can tell a mainstream newspaper how many coaches were finalists but can’t give the state’s oldest Black newspaper even a ballpark of the number of coaches of color who were looked at, my no-diversity radar goes on full alert.
Diversity shouldn’t be a boogie-man concept. But if Blacks aren’t even considered, any type of diversity is hindered because the decision-makers and their handlers lack it themselves.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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