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It’s the BCA’s Job To Bring Diversity To Forefront At Times Like This
Will coaches like Tony Hill get another shot at the D-1A level? If the NCAA follows the BCA report card’s recommendations, he and others may soon be roaming the sidelines again.
SAN ANTONIO– The Black Coaches Association is upset with South Carolina and many in mainstream America think that this is just another black organization that has to interject race into everything that happens; especially when it comes to sports on the collegiate level. However what mainstream media has to realize is that as long as there is the potential for racism or bigoted acts, there will be organizations like the Black Coaches Association who will continue to keep things in the forefront for the rest of the sports world to see. But why should schools like South Carolina and the mainstream media even care about what the BCA says in regards to the hiring of Black coaches when supposedly in the sports world there is a ‘level’ playing field? Because there is no such animal and it is up to organizations like the BCA to continuously point that discrepancy out. How does this organization do such a momentous task? By producing their diversity hiring report card like the one that has just come out two months ago.
Maybe the tactics are wrong in some instances and I am not going to say that I agree with what BCA executive director Keith Floyd suggested by prospective South Carolina recruits. To be perfectly frank, in this one instance, Floyd should realize that the school wanted to replace a legend with a legend. South Carolina did the right thing in getting Spurrier to replace Lou Holtz in helping resurrect the Gamecocks and continue them towards the goal of being a national powerhouse. Now does that mean that Floyd and the BCA should back off completely from their stance? Of course not. South Carolina’s only Black assistant coach is Ron Cooper, who has coached at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and at Alabama A&M. It would be imperative for Floyd to be proactive and work with the school in bringing in quality assistants who could later on become head coaches. Ironically that is the mission for the BCA; something that most of the media do not want to acknowledge.
In regards to their mission statement, what the BCA has done was actually bring up to the forefront the hiring practices of the NCAA when it comes to coaches. Are they saying that out of a 117 schools there should be a ‘balanced’ amount of head coaches who look like the 50% of the total player population at this level? Maybe one day that would happen but more than likely what the organization wants to bring attention to is the fact that as of October 1, 2004 that when the first African American coach was hired in 1979, there have been eighteen since then. This statistic is even worse for Hispanics and other minority groups. As a matter of fact there are only two Hispanic/Latino head coaches and even though there are a few football players in the Asian and Samoan American ethnic groups, there have never been a head coach representing the latter two groups. As the report states when addressing the lack of African American coaches in relation to the athletic population, “This is in stark contrast to the overrepresentation of African American players who participate, are viscerally promoted as superstars, and dominate the playing fields on Saturday afternoons (nearly 50 percent of the African American football players are on athletic scholarship).
QUESTIONS HAS TO BE ASKED Let’s look beyond the South Carolina issue because there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed and that problem is why are there 50% of the players who are African American and yet only two Division 1A coaches still employed as of this writing? Why should there be such a disparaging number at a time when allegedly racism has been abolished in the sports world? It is like that because believe it or not, racism is still very rampant in the sports world and it is heavily noticed at NCAA football division. As BCA’s report card clearly states, “There are no African American coaches at the IAA and III levels and only two at the Division II level.” There is a basic question that has to be asked when you start really delving into this topic. As the BCA report so adequately stated the question is the following: What theoretical frameworks are best to understand the inequities of hiring in college head football positions at the Division IA and IAA level? From this writer’s perspective many of the problems lie on both sides of the aisle. For starters while the BCA is doing everything it can to make sure that minority coaches are at least identified to be qualified individuals, at the same time what is the American Football Coaches Association, based in Waco, Texas, doing to help stimulate the development of these coaches at the lower levels? Then you have to look at the individuals themselves. Of the many African American coaches who are at the middle school levels, how many are actually looking to aspire to become a coach at the high school level? Then from that pool of high school coaches, how many are actually aspiring to become coaches at the college level? Has anyone one coach or any one organization kept an open pipeline where a steady stream of African American and other minority candidates from the high school and college ranks? Lastly the question has to be asked of whether former African American coaches who have had head positions at schools like Louisville and New Mexico State would get a chance to coach once again at that level? These are just a smidgeon of the questions that this report is trying to address and they are questions that should be asked not only from the Black Coaches Association or from writers who cover Black sports but from people who are in a position to truly address such concerns on a national scale. More importantly they should be asked by such individuals because the college administrators will listen to them more so than from a smaller contingent.
These questions and so many others have to be addressed also in lieu of the recent dismissal of Tyrone Willingham from such a prestigious institution like Notre Dame. With the way that this particular situation was handled, Notre Dame shows why indeed the Black Coaches Association exists and why this organization should be allowed to not so much dictate to an institution on who they hire but to help the institution abide by rules that are already set in place by the government and the NCAA in the hiring practices of ALL qualified candidates.
THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE ON THE DISPARITY OF HIRINGS So what do the numbers tell the rest of us outside of collegiate football? Just how many are not making the grade? What the BCA did was that they based their study on a sampling by taking fourteen schools from both the Division IA and IAA ranks. These schools, better known as the respondents in the study, were broken down in this fashion. From the D-1 side of the equation you have: The University of Akron, University of Arizona, Army, University of Central Florida, Central Michigan University, Duke University, Eastern Michigan University, university of Idaho, University of Nebraska, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Texas at El Paso, Mississippi State and Kent State. From the D-1AA side the schools were: Central Connecticut State University, The Citadel, Cornell University, college of the Holy Cross, Elon University, Fordham University, La Salle, University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, University of Richmond, Sacred Heart, San Diego, Southern Utah University and Texas State.
The schools were graded on a scale of A to F in various categories. Of the 28 schools, a good majority of them came from the Division 1-A side. Only two schools from the lower division made the top grade. There were nine schools getting a “B”, with Division 1-AA getting five schools to grade out at that level. There were four schools that got a “C”, with the two divisions splitting the total for this grade. Three schools got a D and four schools got an “F”. The only school Division 1-A school to fail was Texas-El Paso. So what were the criteria for these grade outs? The study used six components to see where these institutions fell in. Those six components were communication, hiring, candidates, reasonable time, affirmative action and final grade. (For a complete understanding of the grades, go to the BCA website at www.bcasports.org and download the study) Understand that this study, as in depth as it is, is not giving complete solutions to the problem; only recommendations. What are some of these recommendations to help curb the large disparaging number of very few minority coaches in relation to the athletes out on the football field? Here is what the report suggests that the NCAA adopt in that regard: 1) The NCAA adopts a policy of mandatory cooperation for all member institutions to participate in the annual Hiring Report Card by providing the information and documentation so subsequent reports can be published in a complete and timely manner. 2) A norm is broadly agreed to for the best ratio for representing campus diversity on all institutional search/hiring committees, including for head football coaches. 3) The NCAA adopts an incentive/disincentive formula for equity and diversity hiring practices that parallels recent NCAA academic reform policies. 4) Specific awards for those institutions that comply with diversity. 5) That schools that have open hiring processes receive public recognition not only to give them credit, but also to encourage other institutions to do the same in the future.
These recommendations are reasonable but there is definitely more that can be accomplished because as with anything, this is just a study; not a mandate. There is no legal binding to this study unless the NCAA and the member institutions want to accept it as such. Fortunately for the BCA there are several institutions, including South Carolina that believes in what the organization is trying to do. The problem that the BCA faces is not so much trying to get the schools to buy into what they are trying to do but to help the general media understand what’s going on with the hiring practices and how come there are only two Black coaches in D-1 and only two in D-III. Hopefully this study will do just that.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This study is available at the Black Coaches Association website and it is highly recommended that anyone who wants to find out more about this study, download it from that site at www.bcasports.org.)