Group Hires Lawyer To Address Dearth of Black College Football Coaches

The number of Black college football coaches is going in the wrong direction, according to the latest hiring report card issued Wednesday by the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA).

Hiring committees are more diverse and coaches of color are being interviewed for football head coaching positions, but the number of hires is still dismal, the report card shows.

“Interviewing is not the measure of true success. Interviewing is not hiring. The true measure of progress and success will be when athletic directors stop merely interviewing candidates of color, and when athletic directors actually hire head football coaches of color,” said Charlotte Westerhaus, vice president of diversity and inclusion of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) .

For the 2007-08 season examined in the fifth BCA hiring report card, there were only four head football coaches of color hired to fill 31 job openings. The 2008 season in both the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Division, began with eight coaches of color, six of whom were African-American.

When compared with the representation of head coaches of men’s Division I college basketball the statistics are striking. In basketball 58 percent of the players are African American and 25 percent of the head coaches are African American. In college football, African Americans make up 50 percent of the players but only 6.7 percent of the head coaches.

“The statistics reveal a cold truth: it is easier to become a head football coach in the NFL, a head basketball coach in the NCAA and a general or commissioned officer in the United States Army than it is to become a head football coach on the (college) level of the NCAA,” wrote BCA executive director Floyd Keith in the report.

The BCA, which held a teleconference Wednesday morning to coincide with the release of its report card, is working in conjunction with attorney Everette L. Scott Jr. of the law firm Spector Gadon and Rosen in Philadelphia to set up a means of understanding the problem and addressing it more effectively.

The BCA says its partnership with the law firm will serve as a “communication vehicle” that will allow administrators, coaches, coordinators, assistant coaches and potential coaches to contact the BCA through a toll free number.

The hotline will allow individuals to confidentially discuss questionable hiring practices, said Scott, a former football player at Howard University. Information received via the hotline will be monitored closely, he added.

A transcript of each call will be prepared, evaluated and recommendations can be formulated, Scott said. “We believe, collectively and cooperatively, with the institutions we should be able to achieve and close this final gap,” he added.

The report card, which is available for download at www.bcasports.org, describes this year’s study and offers comparisons to previous studies.

When asked what it is about the culture of college basketball that provides greater opportunities, the NCAA’s Westerhaus suggested such a question should be directed to college athletic directors. “They know the cultures of all their sports and the hiring cards are in their hands,” she said.

A simplistic answer may be results. African-American basketball coaches have had great successes, thus paving the way for more hires.

The NCAA and BCA both maintain lists of suitable candidates that they will make readily available to any institutions with job openings. But it is the institutions that make the hiring decisions.

“Right now,” said Westerhaus, “we are keen on improving the hiring.”

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