If You Want More Black Coaches, You Are Going To Have To “Groom” Them

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 27, 2004

Fritz Hill

SAN ANTONIO, TX– – The other day I was talking with one of my favorite people from Richmond, Virginia and he brought up the fact that the NCAA needs to break up the “good ole boy” system so that more Black coaches could be hired. Of course I couldn’t disagree more with him on this issue. We are all too aware of racism in this country but to say that Black coaches aren’t getting their fair shake is probably a statement that shouldn’t be made in 2004. If Sylvester Croom can get hired in the SEC and start turning around the Mississippi State Bulldogs, then anyone who is a good Black coach can be hired at the Division I level. Yet my friend says that there is a problem and to an extent he is very correct. However he is also very misinformed because it isn’t up to Athletic Directors to beg for Black coaches. Now what needs to happen in our own backyard is to do something that basketball has no problem doing. If the hood wants more Black coaches at the big name schools, then it is time for some of our kids to go ahead and realize that there is a good living at coaching in the college ranks.

This argument has probably appeared more than once on the website and I know I’ve probably talked about more than a few times on various radio shows. However, as with many of the articles I write, I just feel compelled to constantly reiterate that not everything is going to be a race issue and that is even when the race card is played in a subtle manner. What needs to be understood is that Black coaches are not treated any more different their white counterparts. A great majority of the coaches belong to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). And people need to understand that when you are at a D1 school, things are a little bit differently. Why did New Mexico State let Tony Samuel go? Read the quote from his boss for yourself.

“There wasn’t any one factor, there wasn’t any one game, there wasn’t any one season,” athletic director Brian Faison said.

“The reality is we are moving to another level of competition. I think you’re going to go after a coach that brings strong recruiting to the table.”

Amongst many other things Fiason mentioned management of the team and academics as a big reason for the firing. Folks these are the same reasons why many Caucasian coaches are let go. Of course when you are talking about D1, you are talking about recruiting and these schools want a coach who has a good rapport with the high school coaches in the state. Now that’s not saying that Samuel couldn’t do the job. Heck that’s not saying that Fitz Hill, the former San Jose State coach, isn’t a good coach. What these two open positions are telling me is that it is time to groom some more young men to start filling the ranks that Tyrone Willingham, Croom and UCLA’s Karl Dorrell are a part of; the black head coach fraternity in college.

When you ask most young Black kids what they want to be you don’t hear many saying the want to be the next Vince Lombardi or Eddie Robinson. To become a coach means a special individual realizes that commitment is the requirement and diligence is his best friend. How many kids do you know want to toil around at the high school level and hope that a college job opens up? Not many. It’s semi-rare in basketball circles but I am here to tell you that this type of individual is hard to find at the football level. Being a head coach in football isn’t glamorous to these kids. They don’t see the rewards that could come from being a teacher and mentor to young men. To them that is a job that ranks right there with becoming a member of the fuzz patrol.

So how did this thought process come about? As I have been harping on for several articles now, try the household where the kids reside. Every time I hear a parent or other family member tell a young black male that they need to become rich by being an athlete I just cringe to the point that I want to scream. Because of their ignorance, many parents and/or family members have allowed some very good minds be poisoned into thinking that the only way to succeed is to be an athlete. There are very few family units who are saying “become a teacher and mentor to these young men like your coach was to you.” That’s a sad commentary on a noble career but for Black America it is so true.

The world of athletics has always been able to find a way to start being the bastion of society that once integration takes place, it grabs a hold and runs with it. Over the years we have seen more Black coaches in the NFL and NBA than ever before. It is working so well that rarely is Tony Dungy referred to as a Black coach in the NFL. Now that didn’t happen overnight. However because you have many assistant coaches who are black and making good money now in the league, that stigma isn’t as noticeable as it once was. At the college ranks this simply will not happen until something forces the issue to look at itself.

Are there good Black coaches at the D2, D3, JuCo and high school levels? Sure there are. AFCA prides itself in being the only organization where coaches from all levels, from the high school level to the pros, can interact, share ideas and even learn from each other. There is an untapped source in this organization that the athletic directors know about and have seen matriculate for at least the past decade. However that doesn’t mean they are going to go out and beg Black coaches to come to their institutions. That will never happen and it shouldn’t happen. Like anything else in life, if an individual wants it, they need to do something about it. That usually means to make themselves known to the hiring forces that are out there.

While my Richmond friend brought up some great points on this subject I am just going to have to vehemently disagree with him. The only good ole boy system that is out there is the one that everyone thinks is still present in sports. Over the years and in continuing years, Black coaches have been hired and will continue to get opportunities. It is just that if a Black coach wants one of the big colleges, he will have to do like his white counterpart. He will need to show himself approved to handle the job.