Progress Slow for Minority Football CoachesEAST LANSING, Mich.
Despite some recent high-profile hirings, progress has been slow for minority football coaches at universities, according to participants in a conference at Michigan State University.
Among Division I-A schools, there have been 348 head football coaching vacancies since 1982, but only 19 Blacks hired to fill those positions, San Jose State football coach Fitz Hill said at the conference last month.
Hill is one of just four Black head football coaches among the 115 Division I-A teams, despite the fact that half of the players are Black. Hill is doing doctoral research on minority coaches (see Black Issues April 11, 2002).
“People said I was crazy to take the job at San Jose State, a place that hadn’t won in 10 years,” Hill told the Lansing State Journal. “I said, ‘Ohio State isn’t going to hire me!’ You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play.”
The statistics don’t improve much at the professional level. In the National Football League, just two of the 32 head coaches are minority members.
“Something’s wrong. It’s out of balance,” says Michigan State Athletic Director Clarence Underwood, who is Black. “We are trying to find people with the courage to speak their convictions, and to see what kinds of solutions they might propose.”
Hill said he was pleased to see Bobby Williams hired at Michigan State in 1999 and Tyrone Willingham hired at Notre Dame last year. Both coaches are Black.
“They don’t realize how many dreams they hold in their hands,” he says.
Hill’s research shows dramatic differences between White and Black football coaches. White coaches are older, more likely to have advanced degrees, less likely to have Division I-A playing experience, nearly three times as likely to have a six-figure salary and more than four times as likely to have been interviewed for a head coaching job.
Whites also saw equal opportunities for all races and were 10 times less likely to see plans to increase the number of Black coaches as necessary.
“Let’s be real here,” Hill says. “For Black coaches to get more jobs, White coaches are going to have to get less of them.”
Underwood organized the event, which drew more than 30 athletic directors, coaches and others from college and professional sports.
Among those who gave presentations at the conference were former University of Michigan president James Duderstadt, sports sociologist Richard Lapchick and Black Coaches Association executive director Floyd Keith.
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