This is a debatable topic amongst many NCAA institutions around the country. You see it every Saturday on every sideline. It’s like a taboo. But like everything that is done in the dark, it shall soon come to light. I’m referring to the limited numbers of black head coaches in the marquee sport of all college sports, college football.
According to an article by college football analyst, Terry Bowden, 50 percent of black athletes become 25 percent of assistant head coaches, which leads to three percent head coaching positions. However, 50 percent of white athletes become 75 percent of assistant head coaches, which leads to 97 percent of the head coaching positions.
What’s wrong with hiring a black head coach? Institutions are building programs, winning games and making millions of dollars on the sweat of black athletes, but institutions won’t hire a black man to be a head coach? This seems like institutionalized slavery. Slave masters had their slaves picking cotton to make themselves wealthy, but slaves could not step into houses they help build with their blood, sweat and tears. If you look at this situation closely, who are the slave masters? The 117 Division 1-A institutions. Who are the slaves? The many black athletes. What is today’s version of master’s house? The position of head football coach.
I was reading an article from ESPN.com that said that Tyrone Willingham is the first black coach to get fired and then hired by another school. White coaches get fired all the time and get rehired some place else, but when a black coach receives the pink slip, he fades to black without an encore.
The schools in the South Eastern Conference, until the hiring of Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom in 2003, had never hired a black coach to lead their football programs.
I think the slow progression of black head coaches is due to the deep southern roots of schools in conferences like the SEC.
Even though the NCAA can’t tell schools whom to hire, they can indeed make legislation like the “Rooney Rule” in the NFL, which requires its teams to interview a black candidate before hiring a coach. Since its enactment in the NFL two years ago, the number of black head coaches has increased from three to six. It doesn’t sound like much, but believe me it’s a lot.
The bottom line is, to increase the number of black head coaches; current black athletes must believe that the realistic opportunity to coach big-time Division-IA football is attainable. But for this to happen, there has to be more than four black head coaches out of 117 Division-1A institutions.
Contact Serge Beaubrun at firstname.lastname@example.org