Calling Mr. Brand!!!……..

By Dwight Lewis
Updated: January 12, 2009

TENNESSEE — Some of you might say, “Whose business is it anyway? Let them hire who they want?”

Well, I don’t see it that way, and now the National Urban League is saying that it, too, has a problem with the low number of African-American head football coaches in the NCAA.

And that is the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is the governing body for schools such as the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Florida, Florida State, Harvard and so on.

“I am calling on Myles Brand and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to adopt an ‘NFL Rooney Rule’ mandate for this hiring season to address the appallingly low number of African-American head football coaches in the NCAA,” Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League, said in a press release Jan. 2.

“The NCAA should demonstrate real leadership by forcing college institutions to include minority candidates in the interviewing process.

“The NCAA must act now or the nation’s civil rights organizations may ask the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other appropriate federal agencies to intervene. Out of 582 head football coaches, only 19 are minorities, this is unacceptable by any standard.”

Yes, it is. And that’s especially true when you consider the number of black athletes playing at these various colleges.

At UT-Knoxville this past season, there were 95 players on the roster, not including walk-ons, and 30 were white, 65 were black.

Was an African-American ever considered to replace Philip Fulmer as UT’s head football coach before the school hired 33-year-old Lane Kiffin? If not, why not?

In February 2007, Greg Garber wrote a story on saying that, thanks to the Rooney Rule, doors opened for blacks to become head coaches in the NFL.

Garber wrote, too, that in 2003, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney chaired a committee to study the issue of why some 70 percent of the NFL’s players were black, but only 6 percent of the head coaches were African-American.

Under the Rooney Rule that was later adopted, NFL teams were required to interview at least one minority candidate when filing a head coaching position or be fined.

“There were some people who said, ‘I want to hire whoever I want to hire,’ ” Rooney was quoted by Garber as saying. ” ‘You can’t be telling us who to hire.’

Despite that, the percentage of black head coaches in the NFL has increased, and no, not all of those blacks who have become head coaches since the Rooney Rule was adopted are still head coaches.

Late last month, the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Romeo Crennel, who happens to be an African-American, because the team had a poor 2008 season. But at least he and others, such as Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, got a chance.

That doesn’t seem to be the case at most of the NCAA colleges.

Yes, a few black coaches are being hired, such as Yale University announcing last Thursday that former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive assistant Tom Williams was becoming its first African-American head football coach, according to the Black Coaches Association’s Web site. That same Web site also announced the hiring in late December of Ron English at Eastern Michigan University.

English had been an assistant at the University of Michigan and this past season at the University of Louisville.

If black athletes are good enough to play at these various colleges across the nation, why can’t some of these schools find black head coaches?

And no, no one is asking anybody just to hire somebody for the sake of hiring a black person. But something must be done to change the scenery at some of these colleges.

Another reason: A headline in a Nov. 12 USA Today story by Tom Weir said, “Head football coach is colleges’ ‘most segregated’ job.”

That needs to change voluntarily, and college administrators and athletic directors need to get busy seeing that it happens. If not, measures such as that being called for by the National Urban League, the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream, should, indeed, be adopted.