University of Miami President Donna Shalala and Bernard Franklin, the NCAA’s senior vice president for governance, membership, education, and research, were each awarded Black Coaches Association 2007 Images in Excellence award during the organization’s annual meeting last week.
Although the organization cited the bold leadership of both recipients, the awards were in recognition of specific actions. The BCA chose Shalala for the award largely because of the university’s decision to hire defensive coordinator Randy Shannon as head coach of the high-profile football program. The perennial national championship contender has fallen on hard times in recent years, highlighted last year by an ugly brawl during a nationally televised game against Florida International University. Adding to the Hurricane’s woes was the death of defensive lineman Bryan Pata, who was murdered outside of his off-campus apartment. Not since Tyrone Willingham’s appointment at the University of Notre Dame in 2001 has a Black head coach been given the reigns of such a prominent college program. Shannon was a standout linebacker for the Hurricanes during the 1980s, earning a national title with the team in 1987.
“This is the first time I’ve received an award for selecting the best candidate for a job,” joked Shalala in accepting the award.
Franklin, who oversees many of the NCAA’s most important areas, said “this award is a statement about what we’re trying to do at the NCAA.” A former president at several historically Black colleges, including Virginia Union University, Franklin is the highest-ranking African-American to have served in the NCAA.
BCA President Floyd Keith said “he championed our cause” in presenting the award.”
The Coach of the Year award was given to Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson III and Rutgers University women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer. Both coaches defied great odds and led their respective teams to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four. Stringer is the first coach in men’s or women’s basketball to take three different teams to the Final Four.
— Diverse Staff
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