Most Division I schools get passing grades

Updated: October 20, 2004, 6:46 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Black Coaches Association still wants more minority hires in college football. But the group's new report card finds that most Division I schools are increasing their efforts to include minorities in the search process.

The only I-A school to receive an F was Nevada-Reno. Southern Utah, the University of San Diego and Texas State, all I-AA schools, also received F grades. Cornell was the only school with a perfect score.

Seventeen of 28 Division I-A and I-AA schools received either an A or B in the report released Wednesday. Six schools were given a D or F. The group rated only those schools that had coaching vacancies after the 2003 season.

Only one I-A school actually hired a minority head coach -- Sylvester Croom became the Southeastern Conference's first black head football coach when he took the job at Mississippi State.

"When you look at one of 28 we're not happy," BCA executive director Floyd Keith said. "We're not happy with the results, but it is what it is."

The only I-A school to receive an F was Nevada-Reno, which rehired Chris Ault for his third stint with the school. Ault had been the school's athletic director since 1986 but resigned that post in December.

We have a course to get this right and we'll follow that course. This is not going to go away, and we will continue until see we see changes made across the board.
BCA executive director Floyd Keith

Nevada-Reno did not turn in the requested survey, which the BCA said would result in an automatic F. School officials did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Southern Utah, the University of San Diego and Texas State, all I-AA schools, also received F grades. The report said those with an F were far below par and needed to re-examine the entire hiring process.

Kent State was the only I-A school to receive a D.

Grades are based on results in categories that included the percentage of minorities involved in the hiring process, the number of minority candidates who received interviews and the schools' contacts with either Keith or the chairman of the NCAA's Minority Opportunity and Interests Committee.

Keith Harrison, director of the Paul Robeson Research Center for Academic and Athletic Prowess, compiled the data for the BCA and said some of the results were better because of factors such as how long the search took.

Six I-A schools -- Akron, Arizona, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Texas-El Paso and Mississippi State -- received the highest grade. Two Division I-AA schools -- Cornell and Holy Cross -- also received an A. Cornell was the only school with a perfect score.

Even Nebraska, which Keith had criticized for hiring former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan, got a B. Callahan is white.

"Nebraska probably would have gotten an A if there was a little more diversity on the search committee," Keith said. "But they graded high on everything else. The bottom line is that they got a B."

But after three years of prodding, Keith and his group are concerned that little progress has been made. Only five of 117 Division I-A head coaches, less than 4 percent, are black. In Division I-AA, the gap is even more pronounced -- there are no minority head coaches, other than those working at historically black institutions.

"Right now, candidates of color have a better chance to be a general in the U.S. Army than they have of being named a head football coach, and that is not right," Keith said, citing a statistic showing 8.3 percent of generals are minorities.

To help change the image of college football, Harrison recommended the NCAA mandate schools' participation in the BCA's report card survey and create a penalty-and-reward system similar to one created this year for academic progress.

College football's most prominent black coach, Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham, thinks the media also need to be involved.

"My point is you guys have a huge impact on that, because people do read what you write," Willingham said before the report was released. "I may be wrong, but I don't see very many stands from many of you guys, from any of your publications. I get a lot of heads nodding, but, come on, man, you've got to step up to the plate."

In Keith's mind, the work has only just begun.

He intends to expand the report card to include women's basketball head coaches and athletic directors. For now, Keith is concentrating his efforts on football coaches.

"We have a course to get this right and we'll follow that course," Keith said. "This is not going to go away, and we will continue until see we see changes made across the board."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press