BCA May Use Courts To Get More Minority Coaches

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The head of a black coaches group is frustrated by the lack of minority head coaches in college football, and his remedy may be to go to court.

Keith Floyd, executive director of Black Coaches and Administrators, said Tuesday his group will consider legal action under civil rights legislation.

"We've brought that up and it will be considered on a case-by-case basis," Keith told The Associated Press before the announcement of this year's BCA hiring report card. "But it has to be the right case."

When Keith said his group would begin compiling the annual report in 2002, he promised to re-evaluate the BCA's tactics if he didn't see measurable progress. After four years of promoting the value of diversity and sifting through statistics, Keith is disappointed by the slow pace of progress.

Of 33 coaches hired last season by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A and I-AA, only two minority head coaches were hired -- Randy Shannon at Miami and Mario Cristobal, a Hispanic, at Florida International.

Excluding the historically black colleges and universities that play football, the other 220 schools making up Division I had 12 minority head coaches at the start of this season. One of those, Indiana State's Lou West, has already been fired after going 1-25 in a little more than two seasons with the Sycamores.

The report says only 26 black coaches have been hired at FBS schools, and of the 197 openings since 1996, only 12 have gone to blacks.

Some believe the courts could help spur change.

"If somebody gave me a timeline as to how long it would take and what's possible, sure, let's go that route," said Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt, the BCA president. "I'm really more interested in getting more interviews for candidates."

Others believe the power of persuasion would create quicker results.

"I think more individuals would be hired faster and sooner without a lawsuit," said Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president of diversity and inclusion.

Another troubling sign for Keith and his proponents is that this year's report card includes a record number of overall grades of F (10). Eleven schools received A's, the second most in the four-year history of the report card.

The data also show that while 54.5 percent of the schools received a grade of A or B, that declined from last year's 57.7 percent and is a significant drop over the 64.3 percent compiled in the inaugural report of 2003-04.

Two schools, Georgia Southern and San Diego, received all F's for not responding to the BCA's survey. Other major schools receiving an overall F included Alabama, Air Force and Louisville.

Four schools -- Florida International, Iowa State, Michigan State and Stanford -- received straight A's. Other big schools to receive an A were Cincinnati, Miami and North Carolina.

Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at Central Florida, called football the most segregated sport in college athletics.

"We have called on the NCAA and president Myles Brand to adopt an 'Eddie Robinson Rule,' a college version of the NFL's Rooney Rule mandating that people of color be interviewed for all head coaching positions with sanctions for those who do not," he wrote in a statement included in the report.

The Rooney Rule required NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for each head coaching vacancy. The result has been a gradual increase in black coaches around the league, although that number dropped from a record seven to six this season when Art Shell and Dennis Green were fired and Mike Tomlin was hired in Pittsburgh.

Tomlin, Keith said, was a candidate for three college jobs last year but received only one interview before going to the Steelers.

Keith believes the Rooney Rule could be a model for changes at the NCAA level, too, and said there has been significant discussion among the BCA, the Fritz Pollard Alliance and FBS athletic directors to implement a similar rule.

"I don't think the NFL should be four to five times higher than the NCAA," he said, pointing to the difference among the percentage of black coaches -- 18.8 in the NFL vs. 5.5 in the FBS and FCS.

Westerhaus, however, said the NCAA cannot enforce that kind of rule because of institutional rules on hiring practices.

Another proposal in the report suggests adding a Diversity Progress Report, which would act like the Academic Progress Report. The APR, which has become a regular part of many coaches' vocabulary, penalizes teams that consistently perform poorly in the classroom and rewards those that consistently outperform their counterparts.

Other findings in the report:

• Schools, on the average, have 4.31 on-campus interviews per opening and that minority candidates account for 1.27 of those, a B on the BCA's grading scale.

• The average search committee consists of 6.2 members, while minorities account for 1.56 of those. That's also a B. The BCA contends that for each minority on the committee, the number of minority interviewed increases slightly.

• Minorities lost ground on search committees, one of the categories that accounts for the overall grade, this year. That percentage dropped from 25 percent in 2005-06 to 24 percent this year.

• And, perhaps a promising sign, that more than half the 33 schools earned A's or B's in four of the five categories that are graded. Those categories are: number of communications with the BCA, reasonable amount of time conducting the search, inclusion of minority candidates among the finalists and adherence to the school's affirmative action policy.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press


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