Slowly closing the gap??

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor
Updated: November 16, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — A new report released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at The University of Central Florida presents a mixed bag of evidence when it comes to the progress of people of color within college football. The report found that 15 college football head coaches of FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools are African American (out of 120), but that there is still a great deal of room for improvement in other important positions within athletic departments. To date, 100 percent of conference commissioners, 93 percent of college presidents and 88 percent of athletic directors are white. Also, quite a few universities that earn millions from black athletes are reluctant to hire or tenure African American professors, especially in business and the sciences. From 1979-2002, a total of 19 full-time head coaches were hired in college football. But in the last two years, 10 have been hired. This shows that there are some campuses making some effort to hire more black coaches. The numbers represent progress in the NCAA, a league that is less interested in hiring African Americans than it is in exploiting them. As it stands, most of the thousands of black athletes in college football are never going be head coaches. Also, the vast majority of those athletes will never reach the NFL. Therefore, the greatest crime of collegiate athletics is that most of these universities are not educating the players properly. During my 17 years teaching at the college level, I’ve seen athletes have their majors changed to fit their football schedules. I’ve seen them asked to miss class for an entire week in order to play in a televised football game. I’ve seen them go through four years of college without anyone forcing them to learn how to read. The system is despicably misguided, and it’s made even worse by the fact that their families are not given access to the billions earned each year by the professional sports league known as the NCAA. The NCAA’s $10 billion dollar TV rights deal with CBS sports rivals the deals received by the NBA, NFL and MLB. African Americans disproportionately represent the ones earning this money, but whites typically represent the ones who are putting it in their bank accounts. So, the bottom line is that hiring 5 or 10 extra black coaches hardly accounts for the massive losses to tens of thousands of black families who’ve been hurt by our largest legalized sweatshop. Athletes and their family are fully deserving of fundamental American labor rights, just like everybody else. The problem can’t be solved by hiring a few more black coaches, for the racism of the NCAA is much deeper than that.