05 January 2009

Black Coaches - Distinct, Nearly Extinct

(From RealClearSports)

When DeWayne Walker was named to head the New Mexico State football program on New Year's Eve, he became a member of a very distinct group - so distinct that it's almost extinct.

Walker became just the seventh African-American to head a Division I-A (or Bowl Subdivision) football program, out of 120. And of the seven, only one - Miami's Randy Shannon - coaches in one of the so-called BCS conferences. Do the math - six percent of DI-A coaches are black, and barely one percent (1 out of 67) in the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame.

In a sport where more than 50 percent of the athletes are minorities, this is downright atrocious.

Yet beyond the usual indignation of the hand-wringing variety, it barely raised eyebrows. Rivals.com published its top 10 college football stories of 2008 – this didn't make the list.

While the NFL has made a concerted effort to hire more minority coaches through the "Rooney Rule" - to good effect, college football has all but yawned about this glaring inequity. After the 2008 season, there have been 20 coaching changes, and just four of these head jobs went to black candidates.

It's ironic that universities, perhaps the most liberal and progressive institutions in America, are so behind the times when it comes to hiring for their most glamorous jobs. The head football coach often is the most well-known member of the university community, the de facto face of the university. While colleges aren't afraid to raid each other - or even the business world - for some of the best and brightest minority faculty members, they are reticent to take chances with the head ball coach.

This speaks volumes to just who controls the purse strings at big-time college football programs. The powers-that-be inside the ivory towers ultimately defers to the well-heeled boosters with millions to dispense with. College presidents talk a good game, but at the end, money speaks loudest.

So if you think the BCS gives college football a bad name, you should check with the BCA first.

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