The Big 10:  The Whitest Coaching Conference in America

“Black coaches vanish from Big Ten, once a model for diversity in college basketball,” was the March 6, 2017 headline in the Star Tribune. The sub-headline was “Black coaches becoming a rarity in big-time college basketball.” The article was 2,393 words long.

Was that article significant or just another “Minnesota Nice” move to gloss over racism and anti-diversity? Or, was it just another Star Tribune “Minnesota Nice” drive-by confession only to go back to business as usual? Meanwhile, Black American students continue to be used to make money and to entertain the majority White population?

At the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Charles Hallman and I have been writing on this for years. How will the Star Tribune follow up on this exposure of the corruption of values and fairness regarding the disappearance of head coaches in the Big Ten football and basketball? Once a national leader in the hiring of Black coaches, the Big Ten is now the only major conference without one. Is this just another empty report about an empty diversity policy backed by empty promises?

Besides anti-diversity and anti-fairness, this report also exposes the stupidity of how racism and bias lead to bad programs. Most head coaches are former players. Last season, seventy-four percent of players in power conferences were nonwhite, up from sixty-seven percent in 2008; whereas, Black head coaches in the big six conferences, as a whole, dropped from thirty-three percent to seventeen percent with the Big Ten at zero percent.

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: How can you win when the criteria for great coaching  is based on the color of their skin not the content of their coaching knowledge and drive?

In our five columns (2013 – 2015), we wrote how Tubby Smith was being forced out as head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. The accusations from a White athletic director and a White woman sports writer slandered Smith and his reputation.

Ninety percent of NCAA athletic directors are White. As in the “old days,” too many want coaches who look like them. These great institutions of higher learning scream diversity from their classrooms and rooftops, yet turn their backs on diversity in practice throughout their universities, as diversity is something for the rest of us, but not for them.  And thus, fourteen Big Ten universities have all-White basketball head coaches: Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa, Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland. There are four universities that have never had a Black head basketball coach: Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois and Nebraska.

The Black Coaches Association warned the NCAA a decade ago that college football and basketball were on a path to total segregation. This will cause unrest.

Players may want to “be like Mike,” but not ADs.  Black players (the field hands) are needed to make significant money for the White intuitions. In exchange, they get lower graduation rates. This is not a positive message to send to young Black collegians — male and female, who will be future leaders.

Professional basketball and football are sliding down that same slope of nullification and reversal regarding Black administrators and coaches. Qualified players continue to be doomed to be merely entertainers for boosters, alumni, and rowdy students enjoying their big, new stadiums.  It is not about a “promotion path”: Bill Russell, Doc Rivers, and Jason Kidd, went from being a player one year to head coach the next.

The Big 10 Conference, and other sports, want the head coaches to be White, no matter that many White coaches can’t stand up in quality to many Black coaches.

Stay tuned.

For Ron’s hosted radio and TV show’s broadcast times, solutions papers, books, and archives, go to To order his books, go to