Attempting To Level The Field

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: June 5, 2009

NCAA INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA has named 11 football coaches including two from HBCUs and a group of current athletics directors to a new program called the NCAA Champions Forum in an effort to bring minority football coaches closer to the mindset of athletics directors who ultimately hire head football coaches.

The NCAA Champions Forum will take place June 18-19 in Orlando in conjunction with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Convention (NACDA).

“In the context of hiring minority head football coaches, it’s often said that athletics directors are not familiar with all of the diverse talent within the coaching ranks,” said Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice president for Diversity and Inclusion.

“The new NCAA Champions Forum will address this by bringing successful coaches from our Expert Academy face-to-face with key individuals who have the hiring power and professional connections with other athletics directors in the NCAA membership.”

“The selected diverse coaches already have the requisite skill sets, we’re just placing them in the presence of highly regarded athletics directors who have hiring power and professional connections with other athletics directors.

If you compare the small number of minority head football coaches with the large number of minority student-athletes who compete in NCAA football, there is a big gap. The Champion Forum will be a component that helps to bridge that gap.”

The goal of the NCAA Champions Forum is to link the coaches with athletics directors who can provide insight on their hiring philosophies and be a bridge to their colleagues who one day may have vacant coaching positions at their universities.

The 11 football coaches selected for the Champions Forum have been identified as some of the most experienced football coaches in the NCAA who have completed the NCAA Expert Coaches Academy and have expressed an interest in one day being a head coach at an NCAA college or university in Division I, II or III or being a head coach in a different NCAA division if already at the head coach level.

The coaches were selected by a committee of former NCAA athletics directors.

The NCAA Champions Forum selection committee is Paul Dee (former AD at University of Miami);Marino Casem (former AD at Southern University); Andy Geiger (former AD at Ohio State University); C.M. Newton (former AD at University of Kentucky); and Todd Turner (former AD at University of Washington).

During the Forum, the football coaches and the athletics directors will have time to develop professional relationships in a one-on-one environment. There will be mock interview sessions, keynote speakers, and opportunities for both the coaches and athletics directors to discuss key aspects of becoming a head football coach in a more informal, private setting.

Through the NCAA Champions Forum, the football coaches will have an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the mindset of an athletics director and the intricacies of hiring football coaches for intercollegiate programs.

In turn, the athletics directors will have opportunities to meet, interact and become better acquainted with the football coaches; become “champions” by assisting with the coaches’ continued career growth; and broaden their outlook as athletics directors on potential minority head coaching prospects in the NCAA.

Of the current 119 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head football coaches, seven are African-American, one is Pacific Islander, and one is Latino. Out of a total of 582 football programs in Divisions I, II and III, only 3.9 percent are coaches of color, excluding the historically black coaches and universities.

The NCAA National Office does not have the authority to mandate hiring decisions at its member colleges and universities, but it provides coaches with opportunities to further enhance their skills and exposes them to key decision makers at NCAA colleges and universities.

In addition to the Champions Forum, the NCAA Diversity and Inclusion group also directs the Future Coaches Academy for student-athletes, the Football Coaches Academy (less than eight years of experience) and the Expert Coaches Academy (eight years or more of experience).

The NCAA Football Academies are designed to assist football coaches with career advancement and networking and exposure opportunities. Since the NCAA created its Coaching Academies in 2004, five of the eight minority football coaches who have been hired in head coaching positions at NCAA colleges and universities participated in the NCAA coaching academy programs.

Football Coaches Selected for the NCAA Champions Forum

Garret Chachere, wide receivers coach, University of Arizona; Henry Frazier, head coach, Prairie View A&M University; Jamie Hill, defensive coordinator, Brigham Young University; Michael Hoyt, defensive coordinator, Albright College; Brian Jones, running backs coach, University of Missouri; David Kelly, assistant head coach, wide receivers coach, University of Central Florida.

Jeffrey Mclnerney, head coach, Central Connecticut State University; Don Pellum, running backs coach, University of Oregon; James Spady, offensive coordinator, Grambling State University; Larry Porter, assistant head coach/running backs coach, Louisiana State University; and Paul Winters, head coach, Wayne State University

Athletics Directors Selected for the NCAA Champions Forum

Joe Castiglione, University of Oklahoma; Bubba Cunningham, Tulsa University; Damon Evans, University of Georgia; Derrick Gragg, Eastern Michigan University; Kirby Hocutt, University of Miami (Fla.).

Eric Hyman, University of South Carolina; Lee McElroy, University at Albany; Jim Phillips, Northwestern University; Tim Selgo, Grand Valley State University; Joy Solomen, Rowan College