Lack of minority coaches reflects leadership

Updated: November 18, 2004, 1:29 AM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The low number of minorities coaching in college football reflects a lack of diversity among college and conference leaders, according to a University of Central Florida study released Wednesday.

UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found there were five blacks and one Hispanic employed as head coaches at the 117 Division I-A football schools as of Oct. 31.

That low percentage mirrors the numbers for university presidents (5 percent), athletic directors (8 percent), faculty athletic representatives (9 percent) and conference commissioners (zero minorities).

"It is clear from this data that the vast majority of the most powerful people in college sport are white," institute director Richard Lapchick said in a statement. "Does this have an impact on the hiring of head football coaches? How could it not?"

The study -- "The Buck Stops Here: Assessing Diversity among Campus and Conference Leaders for Division I-A Schools" -- also found that white women held 41 of 360 campus leadership positions (11 percent). There are two minority women in such jobs, one black and one Hispanic.

"History shows that in the 'old boys' network, white men are likely to hire people who look like them," Lapchick said.

By comparison, about 43 percent of the football players in Division I-A are black, Lapchick said.

The study also noted that minorities in leadership positions were no more likely to hire minorities than their white peers. The same went for women.

Of the six minority university presidents, none hired a minority for the positions of athletic director, football coach or faculty athletic representative.

Among the 13 female presidents, none appointed a female athletic director.

The study's findings did not come as a surprise to Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association.

"When you look at the number of ethnic minorities in positions of decision making, it's paltry," Keith said.

The BCA released its own study this year surveying schools for their sensitivity toward minority issues when hiring football coaches. Programs were given positive grades for factors such as the number of minorities on the search/hiring committee and the number of minorities who received on-campus interviews.

Of the 28 I-A and I-AA programs that hired coaches during the 2003-04 academic year, 11 received grades of C or lower.

Lapchick and the BCA noted that one obstacle toward hiring minority coaches is that many schools feel pressure to fill their vacancy as soon as possible.

"They're usually done very quick because (the programs) want to move on in the recruiting process," Lapchick said.

The NCAA has a number of programs aimed at increasing the numbers of minorities in leadership roles, spokesman Erik Christianson said.

"We are creating here at the national office a new unit for diversity and inclusiveness," he said. "We see that as another effort to help bring more resources and support to this particular area for our member colleges and universities"

But hiring is up to the individual institutions, Christianson acknowledged.

Major League Baseball and the NFL have policies, backed by the threat of hefty fines, forcing teams to interview minority candidates for coaching positions.

"That's something the BCA has been suggesting, in terms of bylaws to that point," Christianson said. "Our members are not there right now, but it's something they want to pursue in the future."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press