Few second chances for Black coaches

ABDULRSULAYMAN Donald Hunt

Black women’s college basketball head coaches often aren’t offered second chances if fired after their first coaching opportunity, says a new Global Sport Institute (GSI) study.

GSI, which is located at Arizona State University, looked at HBCU and Power Five head coaching hires (1984-2020) and found that Black women had the second-largest gain (+9) behind White men (+10) and well ahead of Black men (+1). But Black women had the shortest average head coaching tenures and were least likely to get a second head coaching job, while White women were twice as likely to get second chances.

Other findings include: Black women are held to higher standards than White females and male peers, even if Black women often are more qualified on average in terms of previous playing experience and educational background. Black women in particular also face more racial and gender stereotypes than their White peers, making it harder to get into coaching in the first place as well as to advance.

The MSR recently attended a virtual GSI panel discussion on women’s basketball. The panelists noted that Black female coaches do not reflect the percentages of Black female players:  92% of HBCU players and 42% of PWI (primarily White institutions) players are Black.

Black athletes aren’t receiving an equal opportunity when it comes to coaching, said Penn State Assistant History and African American Studies Professor Amira Rose Davis. She added that Black coaches often must resort to looking at HBCUs to find coaching opportunities “and get their feet in the door.” 

“If you don’t make it, that door may not open for the next woman of color or Black woman to come through that door,” noted Nikki Fargas, who coached at two Power Five schools and now is president of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. She added that Black women coaches shouldn’t have to “walk on a wire with their jobs.”

University of Southern California Associate AD Julie Rousseau said Black women coaches need support from their schools. She asked, “How can these women find their identity and feel comfortable in such an unsupportive space?”

The Gophers’ last two opponents prior to beginning Big Ten play Monday vs. Nebraska featured virtually all-Black teams but coached by White women.

“It means a lot to look on the court and see Black players, and then on the sidelines see Black head coaches…being their authentic selves and not trying to fit into any mold,” said former Tennessee player Andraya Carter, now an ESPN/SEC Network analyst. “I think it broadens the image that little girls see when they picture their future.”

Hunt retires

Veteran sportswriter Donald Hunt retired last week after over four decades, mostly with the Philadelphia Tribune, where he started working in 1982. Hunt became the first Black sportswriter inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and was 2011 NABJ Journalist of the Year.

“I covered high school, college and professional sports at the Tribune,” Hunt told the MSR. “I covered just about every major sportsperson in the last 30 years in Philly.”

His 2008 column started the drive to get Wilt Chamberlain on a U.S. stamp, which became a reality in 2014. He also penned columns on Dawn Staley and John Chaney among many local and national notables.

“There’s always a story to write,” noted Hunt, who officially retired Dec. 1. “I’ve been really blessed to have a long career.  

“I’m going to spend some time with family and friends now,” he concluded.  “I still plan to do some writing.”