NCAA should work harder to ensure diversity in college football coaches

The diversity in major college football coaching seems to take one step forward and two steps backward every year.

According to the NCAA Office of Diversity and Inclusion, only seven Division I-A teams were led by a minority head coach last season. The seven coaches were Sylvester Croom, Mario Cristobal, Karl Dorrell, Turner Gill, Ron Prince, Randy Shannon and Tyrone Willingham.

Croom was the only one to lead his team to a bowl game last year. Karl Dorrell was fired by UCLA prior to the bowl game. In total there are 119 college programs in the FBS. Those numbers show that the diversity in college football is far from where it should be.

At the end of the 2007 football season there were 17 FBS head coaching jobs available. Only one of those positions were filled by a minority coach and that was Kevin Sumlin, who became Houston’s first ever African-American head football coach.

It was 36 years ago when Don Hudson made history as the first black head coach at a predominantly white school in 1971 at Malcaster College in St. Paul, Minn.

Eddie Robinson is the winningest coach in college football history (Division I). FSU head coach Bobby Bowden is recognized as the leader but even he has went on record to say that Robinson in the leader with a record of 408-165-15. Bowden has 373 victories.

In 2006, ESPN contributor Jason Whitlock wrote a controversial article claiming Notre Dame had treated former coach Tyrone Willingham different from current coach Charlie Weis, who is white. Weis was given a contract extension after his first two years. Records show that Willingham had a better overall record than Weis had in the same time span, including better quality wins.

ESPN contributor Jason Whitlock believed that to be racist and didn’t hesitate in voicing an opinion.

“Now, Weis’ new 10-year contract, reportedly worth between $30 million and $40 million … that strikes me as racist. Because there’s just no way Notre Dame, or any school for that matter, would do the same thing for a black coach,” Whitlock wrote in an ESPN article.

Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, said the NCAA should adopt the “Rooney rule” or one similar to it. The “Rooney rule” was implemented in 2003, when Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, led a committee to study the hiring process of head coaches in the NFL.

According to the “Rooney Rule”, each team must interview at least one minority head coaching candidate during the hiring process. If a team refuses to do so they will be fined, according to the NFL rule book.

“It may lead to some bogus interviews, but it has been proven that when minority candidates are brought into the room under any circumstances they have surprised some people and gotten a real shot at a job,” Lapchick said.

Those bogus interviews would be a step in the right direction. Some argue that minority coaches just need to get in the room and they will take care of the rest.

If the NCAA was to implement the “Rooney rule” one has to ask how they would make sure all 119 programs are following the rule.

“NCAA schools that violate the policy should face financial penalties, as NFL teams do under its so-called “Rooney rule,” said Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association.

The minority head coaches are still very rare, but the ones that are coaching are getting the job. They are proving they can coach with the best of them.