Football Coach Hill To Leave San Jose State

By Off the BASN Sports Wire
Updated: November 23, 2004

Dr. Fitz Hill

SAN JOSE, Ca. — Dr. Fitz Hill, San Jose State University’s football head coach since December 2000, has accepted a “Visiting Scholar” position at the University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sports Business Management Program and will work for the university’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute, made the announcement.

By becoming a Visiting Scholar, Hill, who also will be a Research Associate at UCF, is leaving the coaching profession after San Jose State University’s final game of the 2004 season. The Spartans host Fresno State in the WAC regular-season finale for both teams, Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Game time is 2:00 p.m. (PST).

“No one who has ever talked with Fitz Hill for more than a minute can doubt his dedication to football, the young men who play it, and, since he arrived at San Jose State, his dedication to the university”, said Don Kassing, the school’s interim president.

“He gave us some really thrilling moments – beating Illinois in 2002, the win over Rice earlier this year, the Boise State game two weeks ago, and seeing Spartan Stadium overflowing with fans for the 2003 Literacy Classic with Grambling State. The ‘Classic’ was Fitz’s initiative and stemmed from his belief in not just developing athletes, but developing well-rounded student-athletes. We especially appreciated his philosophy, because that is what San Jose State is all about”.

“We will miss Fitz and the positive energy he brings. We thank him for his years of dedicated service to San Jose State and the inspiration he has provided to so many student-athletes. In all he undertakes down the road, we wish him every success”.

As he finishes his fourth season as San Jose State’s head coach, he is one of five African-Americans who is a head coach at a Division I-A school. Hill, who also is one of two Division I-A football head coaches to earn a doctoral degree, earned his Ed.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1997 after completing his thesis, “Examining the Barriers to Restricting Employment Opportunities Relative to the Perceptions of African-American Football Coaches at NCAA Division I-A Colleges and Universities.”

The 40-year-old Hill remains in demand as a national spokesman on the issue of hiring minorities in football headcoaching positions at major colleges and universities.

“Dr. Lapchick has presented with me a unique opportunity to continue scholarly work in the general area of race relations in sports”, said Dr. Hill. “He (Lapchick) continues to be a mentor to me in my on-going research on the subject. This opportunity allows me to pursue a book project that has always been a passion of mine and share my research and knowledge with the greatest number of people possible”.

“When I heard that Dr. Hill was considering leaving coaching, I asked himif he would be interested in joining me in our work at UCF”, said Dr. Lapchick.

“I have admired him for many years as a scholar and teacher as well as a coach. I am so delighted that he will be joining us as he will add real world experience both to our classrooms as well as our research efforts. Dr. Hill is a genuine leader in our nation”.

At San Jose State University, Hill has a 14-32 record. Under his leadership, the team’s best win-loss record was 6-7 in 2002 marking only the second time since 1993 the Spartans won at least six games in a season. The Spartans defeated defending Big Ten champion Illinois as one of four road wins that year.

Arguably, the team came within one play in the final game of the season of producing a winning record and earning the school’s first post-season bowl appearance since 1990. and The Sporting News lauded Hill for generating one of college football’s best “turn-arounds” despite being one of only two Division I-A schools to play 13 games in 13 weeks and travel more than 24,000 miles for nine road games. One of those road games was against Ohio State – the eventual 2002 national champion.

Hill added, “Without struggle, there is no progress. When I arrived here in December of 2000, there were good things in place, but the foundation was not as strong as it needed to be for the long term. We have made progress in many areas of the football program at San Jose State”.