Has diversity growth in college sports reached a dead end? It would appear so, judging from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s (TIDES) latest April 7 report card, in which racial hiring seems to be perennially stuck in a rut going nowhere. Why the lack of progress? This multi-part series tries to shed some light on that question.
Conclusion of three parts
The BCA started in 1988 as a membership and advocacy group for Black coaches to improve coaching opportunities. The name changed from Black Coaches Association to Black Coaches and Administrators in 2007.
Its membership swelled from 172 to over 5,500 during Floyd Keith’s tenure as BCA executive director (2001-13). (Full disclosure — I was a BCA member for many years.) Keith helped develop the BCA Hiring Report Card that measured colleges’ hiring practices on college football and basketball coaches for 10 years, and the Achieving Coaching Excellence (ACE) professional development program, now run by the NCAA. Its last national convention however, was in Orlando, Florida in 2012.
“It’s hard to operate without money,” admitted Keith, now the CEO of PPA Professional Services, an Indianapolis-based consulting firm. “One of the most difficult things with the BCA is having events to make money. As those gradually went away, so did the financial piece.”
We ran into Keith last month in Indianapolis at the Women’s Final Four. “We’ve made progress in the last 12-15 years,” he pointed out, regarding hiring Black coaches. But the numbers, according to NCAA data seems to indicate it has been turtle-like: a 117 increase in Black Division I men and women head coaches from 2003-15 (363 to 480); an increase of 72 Black Division II men and women head coaches (116 to 188); and an increase of 128 Black Division III men and women head coaches (254 to 382).
“It’s been a steady decline the last six years,” admitted Keith on Black men’s basketball head coaches hiring. “Women’s basketball was making great progress from 2003 on, and then it has leveled off as well. The football side, which was below basketball, saw an increase and then that got stagnant.
“Sometimes you feel like you are pushing up a hill, and the hill has gotten a little smaller but we are still pushing the rock,” pledged Keith.
Hiring White coaches and front office execs won’t stop any time soon, but why are they too often the only ones pushed, promoted, and lobbied for these jobs, while Blacks — whether pro or college — still get the last-hired-first-fired treatment? A recent example — the Minnesota Timberwolves fired its Black coach and hired not only his White successor but also a White GM, replacing Milt Newton barely a week later.
It shouldn’t be a leap year or a blue moon event whenever a Black coach or exec is hired either.
Wrote Vincent Goodwill on CSNChicago.com, “It’s not that one set of guys is better than others, but something appears to be flawed in the process when a certain set is seen as excluded.”
Said Keith, “While there’s probably not a realistic thought that 50 or 60 percent of the coaches to be people of color or ethnic minorities, we need to have a higher number…and there are quality coaches out there that can fulfill those roles.”
Said Media Diversified.org’s Shane Thomas, “Diversity should be a remedy… Rather than shielding yourself behind how many people of color your company has, better to scrutinize why you have so many White people.”
On the former BCA, whose old website now directs you to a sports betting site, “I wish it would be more visible, but I think they have an agenda on what their plans are now that it’s the Advocates for Athletic Equity (AAE),” responded Keith on the AAE, that is housed inside NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis and “will work in partnership on various projects” including the ACE program, said the NCAA.
“I just hope they’ll [the AAE] keep pushing” on hiring more Black coaches, advised Keith. “I think we have to continue to realize that without a voice or without saying something in making sure that everybody knows that we still have a situation, and without accountability and process, things won’t change.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.