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NCAA Football: African-American Coaches – Pt. I

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Collegiate sports is a multi-billion dollar business and the cash cow is football. Its popularity has led to a boom in revenues and next level of TV exposure. You can watch a college football game just about any night of the week… even Sundays. 

The tremendous growth of the sport has led to an increase in scrutiny directed at the operations of the NCAA, colleges and universities. One of the biggest critisisms is the shockingly low percentage of African-American Head Coaches. In a sport where half of the players are African-Americans, this fact is alarming and unacceptable. 

The Black Coaches Associates (BCA) agrees with Urban Sports Talk’s position. The BCA has been the most vocal organization and in its recent Hiring Report Card the NCAA received an F. Here are the facts:

  • The NCAA Division I Football Subdivision (formely known as I-A) is comprised of 119 colleges and universities
  • There are more than 10,000 scholarship athletes participating in football in 2007
  • 50% of these scholarship athletes are African-Americans
  • Of the 119 Head Coaching postions, 6 are held by African-Americans (4%) 
  • After the 2006 season, there were 23 Head Coaching positions available… only 2 minorities filled those positions 
  • 31 of 242 Coordinators (Defense/Offense) are African-American (15%)

An African-American Offensive Coordinator (Division III) recently talked openly with us. He shared his frustration with not being able to break into a Division I football program despite his credentials. This coach is a former high school All-American and a starting running back in the NFL. He’s been coaching for 7 years since he retired from professional football. The coach shared, “I’ve been asking the university that I played for if I could come there as a graduate assistant for several years. Each year, they give me some excuse as to why there’s not an opportunity available. I see guys getting those openings all the time and they didn’t even play there.” 

  1. Ty Willingham – University of Washington
  2. Sylvester Croom – Mississippi State University
  3. Karl Dorrell – U.C.L.A.
  4. Ron Price – Kansas State University
  5. Turner Gill – Buffalo University
  6. Randy Shannon – University of Miami

Note: Of the top 5 programs with the largest number of African-American coaches, 3 have African-American Head Coaches (Miami (FL) – 6, UCLA – 5, Mississippi St. – 5).

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5 responses

  1. It’s sad that we’ve got another arena where it’s OK to be a Black contributor (player), but not a Black leader (head coach). You would think the success of Dungy and Smith at the pro level would help open doors to more Black head coaches. However, boosters and other supporters still have a strong influence in college sports. I’m sure that pressure from these groups make it difficult to hire Black head coaches.

    November 26, 2007 at 4:43 am

  2. Richard Reynolds, IV

    I don’t think all our attention should be focused on college administrations. We need a balanced approach to this challenge. Yes, colleges and universities must be held accountable to this reality. There are those of us who need to “speak the truth to power.” However, African American athletes need to begin to position themselves to get the coaching jobs. Our athletes need to be intentional about pursuing coaching as a career by getting degrees in sports administration and developing relationships as student athletes toward that end. We have to increase our graduation rates and seize the opportunities that exist when awarded the scholarships that are far more valuable than the dollar amount attached to tuition, room and board. For most African American collegiate athletes professional sports is not a reality. The real blessings of the scholarship is the education and the endless opportunities associated with it. We must change our thinking about the more realistic opportunities that are presented with the athletic scholarship. Professional leadership throughout our communities and the world is far more realistic than professional sports.

    November 27, 2007 at 2:59 pm

  3. "Kuzz'n"

    Thank you for addressing this crucial issue because it speaks to the larger problem, and is thus, merely a symptom of the inherent sickness that pervades Black-ameriKKKan life. The vestiges of +400 years of slavery, servitude, and oppression of white supremacy as the Rule of Law in this country (read the 1857 Dred Scott decision) is not about to go away any time soon. In fact, and quite frankly, truth be told, many of the most prominent universities – or ‘institutions of higher lerning’ (if that’s what you wanna call’em), were themselves founded by slavers (marinate on THAT!). Racism (white supremacy) pervades EVERY aspect of life in ameriKKKa. The lack of Black coaches on college football teams is likewise refelcted in these very same college classrooms as well. And we won’t even begin to talk about positions as deans, presidents, or other faculty and staff positions – areas MUCH more significant than coaching jobs, lest we forget. Why then, should coaching be any less exempt? Our response is not to appeal to the kindness(?) or human nature(?) of the decendents of slavemasters – to appeal that they replace THEIR ‘god-given’ rights to cushy jobs with members of the demographic that actually make their jobs the “Big-Time positions” they came to be in the first place – HOW DARE US!(laugh)….Again, lest we forget, college football – as with ALL sports in this country – was NOTHING, until Black athletes were able to participate, (marinate on THAT too!) The issue – as usual – begs the question of “WHAT are WE going to do for ourselves?” Will we turn inward to lift up our own existing colleges and universities to compete on the level of programs that we, in fact, make what they are? Will black graduates return to their respective alma mattas (ala Doug Williams) and “give Back to the Black” using the blessings of the wealth they achieve down the road, made possible by the educational opportunities afforded them by our HBCU’s, without which, in many cases, degrees in higher education would not be possible?

    Given the latest episodes of (“negative re-enforcement”) of white supremacy in the form of nooses, arsons, police assassinations, assualts, incarcerations, passing of unjust laws, and overall abuse and injustice, just HOW LONG do we continue hoping. praying, pleading, petitioning – begging – white folks to share, give, award, bequeath, or otherwise do for US that which WE clearly must for ourselves????

    THAT is the issue. (Again, marinate on THAT!)

    November 29, 2007 at 1:51 am

  4. Dennis

    I’m all for all minorities getting a fair shot at a head coaching position.

    However, I’m perplexed. Why does the national media narrow this issue down to “African American” only?

    There are other minority groups in the United States…besides “African American”! What about opportunities for Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or Hispanic individuals?

    If the goal is to have fairness and equal representation across the board, it’s a much bigger issue than “African American” only.

    November 8, 2008 at 8:35 pm

  5. Anonymous

    this was such a waste of time go mcain

    November 11, 2008 at 7:05 pm

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