Black Coaches: Hiring Process Improved

Tyrone Willingham, head coach of the Univ. of Washington football team.
NCAA Division I universities improved this year in considering minority candidates for head football coaches, but more progress is needed, and resorting to civil rights laws might be necessary, the Black Coaches Association said Thursday.

With only 10 minority head coaches currently among more than 200 Division I-A and I-AA schools that are not historically black institutions, universities must appoint more minority coaches and more diverse search committees for vacant positions. Evidence shows the latter leads to more minority coaches being considered, the BCA said.

And if that means applying Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, so be it, BCA executive director Floyd Keith said in a teleconference with reporters.

"I think we'll have to put a magnifying glass on searches," Keith said. "Change is not something that has been as quick as we'd like to see it."

The third annual report card, released Thursday, showed mixed results. While a record 12 of the 26 Division I-A and I-AA schools received overall grades of A, a record six schools also received F's, including five who received the failing marks for not reporting to the BCA on what steps they took to consider minority coaches. They included perennial Big Ten power Wisconsin and two other I-A schools, Rice and Boise State.

Among 414 coaching vacancies in Division I-A since 1982, only 21 blacks have been hired, a huge disparity given the number of minority athletes on the playing fields, the BCA said.

"The BCA wants the best candidate to be chosen irrespective of race," Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, said in the report's forward. "With only five African-American head coaches in the 2005 season, college football is emphatically the most segregated position in all of college sport."

Three of the 12 schools that received overall A grades this year — Buffalo, Columbia and Southeast Missouri State — hired black coaches. Kansas State, which also hired a black coach, received a B.

The 12 A's were nearly as many as the previous two years combined (13), and Buffalo and Southeast Missouri State each earned perfect scores — A's in each of the five categories. Kansas State received a lower overall grade because it received an F for the composition of its search committee.