BCA Tells Athletes To Spurn Gamecocks

By Joseph Person
Updated: December 9, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Not everyone is thrilled with USC’s hiring of Steve Spurrier.

The director of the Black Coaches Association is urging prospective coaches and athletes to shun the Gamecocks in response to the school’s hiring of Spurrier last month without interviewing any minority candidates.

Floyd Keith, the BCA’s executive director, said USC officials demonstrated “a complete disregard and lack of respect for our process,” an article that was published Tuesday on the Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Keith encouraged recruits, their parents and coaching candidates to look elsewhere “because this is indicative of an attitude that should be of concern,” according to the article.

USC athletics director Mike McGee said that “unusual and extraordinary circumstances” surrounding Lou Holtz’s retirement and the hiring of Spurrier gave the school little time to conduct a normal search. McGee said previously that after Holtz informed him of his decision following the Tennessee game on Oct. 30, Spurrier was the only candidate McGee contacted.

The two sides reached an agreement within three weeks, and Spurrier was introduced as Holtz’s successor on Nov. 23.

“We were faced with the possibility of not having a coach in place for the bowl game,” McGee said Tuesday in a release. “We had the opportunity to replace an accomplished and national championship coach with another accomplished and national championship coach.

“The window for that to occur was clearly uncertain. It certainly was not the normal type of coaching transition that an institution faces.”

Spurrier won six SEC titles and the 1996 national title during 12 years at Florida before embarking on a failed, two-year NFL experiment with the Washington Redskins.

McGee was in New York on Tuesday for the College Football Hall of Fame dinner and unavailable for further comment. Attempts to reach Keith on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Besides maintaining a database of qualified minority candidates, the BCA recommends that at least 30 percent of finalist pools be made up of people other than white men. Keith’s organization also asks schools to take at least two weeks to hire coaches.

Keith Crolley, coach of Crestwood High in Camden, said he doubted whether the BCA’s position would have much impact on Crestwood all-state linebacker Damien Wright, who has committed to the Gamecocks.

“I don’t think it’s made a difference with Damien. We haven’t heard anything about this,” Crolley said. “He’s still staying strong to his commitment as of right now.”

Attempts to reach Wright were unsuccessful.

Columbia all-state tailback Mike Davis, who has USC on a long list of possible destinations, was unaware of the BCA’s stance on USC.

“I don’t feel I know the issue well enough to speak on it,” Davis said.

Last week’s firing of Notre Dame’s Ty Willingham left only two black head coaches among 117 Division I-A schools, making the issue of minority inclusion in coaching searches a hot-button issue.

Since arriving at USC in 1993, McGee has hired only one black head coach — track and field coach Curtis Frye, the first black head coach in any sport in school history. McGee talked to Kentucky’s Tubby Smith before hiring men’s basketball coach Dave Odom, and has brought in several minorities to fill administrative positions, including compliance director Marlynn Jones.

In his statement, McGee said he was appreciative and supportive of the BCA’s efforts.