NCAA Forum Aims to Increase Minority Head Coaches

ORLANDO, Fla. – A new wave of college football head-coaching candidates went to school this past weekend.

Seven African-American coaches, including three former NFL players, were participating Friday in The Champion Forum, the top tier of the NCAA’s coaching academy, during a weeklong convention of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

The academy is part of the NCAA’s effort to increase the number of “ethnic minorities” in head coaching positions at the 583 institutions that have football teams. The message being delivered this year is that today’s head coach has to do more than teach blocking and tackling.

“One of the things I’ve taken is that there are a lot more things to running a program than the X-and-O part of it,” said Notre Dame outside linebackers coach Kerry Cooks, who played for the Green Bay Packers in 1998.

Among them are fundraising and budgeting; media, alumni and booster relations; compliance considerations; and the management of a large staff.

“In 2011, you won’t get a job because you can coach,” University of Virginia Athletic Director Jon Oliver said in a seminar Friday morning. “You’ve got to be a CEO. You’ve got to manage a lot of different things.”

Until recently, only Whites were considered for most jobs. Even today, seven years after the NCAA created the coaching academies, only 18 of 120 Bowl Subdivision football programs are coached by members of an ethnic minority.

“My personal opinion is there’s still a long way to go,” Cooks said. “You look at the number of Division I head coaches and how many minorities there are, and it’s astounding.”

The percentage is even lower in other divisions. According to the NCAA, only 41 college football teams (about 7 percent) have a nonwhite head coach, not including the programs of historically Black colleges and universities.

“Guys are getting opportunities,” said University of Miami linebackers coach Michael Barrow, “but you never know if you’re going to get another opportunity, so you’ve got to be prepared the first time. The opportunities are definitely increased from the past, and I think the numbers even say that.”

Barrow, whose 13-year NFL career included 150 tackles for the Giants in 2003, said once young coaches get a taste of coaching, they want to be a head coach.

“Being in that position, you have a voice, you have more say,” he said. “Everybody wants to drive. Everybody wants the remote.”