More attention given, but fewer being hired
There are just five black coaches among the 117 Division I-A schools.
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Fans watching Florida Atlantic play New Mexico State on Saturday will get a chance to see a rare sight: A black Division I-A head coach.
The Aggies' Tony Samuel is one of five black coaches among the 117 I-A teams.
In a division where 51 percent of the players are black, having 4.27 percent of the coaches is a source of embarrassment and consternation for the NCAA.
"There is no excuse for this," said Floyd Keith, Executive Director of the Black Coaches Association. "This is an obvious travesty. It is a social injustice."
Even though more attention is being focused on the problem and schools are feeling pressure to expand their pool of coach candidates, the numbers have been declining from the high of eight black coaches in 1997.
The numbers get even worse when I-AA is included, minus the 13 historically black colleges. There are no black coaches among the remaining 103 I-AA teams, meaning that of the 220 predominantly white I-AA and I-A schools, there are five black coaches, or 2.27 percent.
As Keith points out, it is easier to be a general in the U.S. Army, where 26 percent of the troops are black and 8.3 percent are generals.
In October, Keith's organization released the first of what will be annual report cards based on the schools that had openings the previous year. In 2003, 28 new coaches were hired in I-A and I-AA. One, Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, was black.
The report card points out that in the past eight years there have been 142 coach openings, and eight black coaches were hired, one each year.
"There seems to be a white quota," said Keith Matthews, director of the Robeson Center, who researched and wrote the report card, "and that is that it stays mostly white."
The BCA wants access to the hiring process by getting qualified black coaches in the pool of candidates. The number of black assistants has grown to 24 percent, so Keith said there is plenty of talent available.
Mississippi State got an "A" for hiring Croom, but seven other schools that ended up hiring a white coach also received an "A" because they had a diverse search committee that interviewed a diverse group of candidates over a long enough time period to allow for careful consideration.
"If we only gave A's to schools that hired a black coach, we would be doing what we are condemning," Keith said. "It shouldn't be a racial choice."
Said Samuel, who is in his eighth season at New Mexico State: "I think the report card is good to have because it gives the layman and people in the business an idea of what is going on, what's being done and how it is being done. I'm hoping more opportunities come our way."