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Notre Dame gets B for minority hiring efforts

11/9/2005 - College Football

INDIANAPOLIS -- The way Notre Dame went about replacing
Tyrone Willingham had a greater effect on its minority hiring
report card grade than its decision to fire the school's first
black football coach.

The result: The Fighting Irish received a B from the Black
Coaches Association.

"We look at the documented facts, and the firing is related to
the overall picture," said Keith Harrison, who conducted the study
for the BCA. "But the grade is what they earned."

South Carolina and Utah, however, were the only Division I
schools that the BCA said failed to document their search process
and joined three other schools that received F's on the report card
released Wednesday.

The BCA gives schools automatic F's if they don't submit
documents.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill said Wednesday that Utah
didn't participate in the study because the Utes hired from within,
promoting defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham and keeping him
from going to rival Brigham Young.

"We didn't feel that the survey really could have addressed how
we proceeded and would reflect the unusual nature of this hire,
given our time restraint," Hill said.

Utah received an A in the BCA study two years ago after the Utes
hired Urban Meyer from Bowling Green.

BCA executive director Floyd Keith again was disappointed by the
latest results.

Of the 119 Division I-A football schools, only three coaches --
Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, UCLA's Karl Dorrell and
Washington's Willingham -- are black. In Division I-AA, the plight
is even worse. Indiana State's Lou West is the only black head
coach at a predominantly white university.

Keith believes the report card also indicates the trend is
getting worse.

While 13 of 30 schools that made coaching changes in the last
year received either an A or B, more than half earned average,
below average or failing grades. Among those at the bottom end were
LSU, Florida and Marshall.

Schools are evaluated on categories that include the percentage
of minorities involved in the hiring process, the number of
minority candidates who interviewed and the schools' contacts with
either Keith or the chairman of the NCAA's Minority Opportunity and
Interests Committee.

"This is worse, in average, than last year," Keith said. "In
society, a C means average. On this report card, it represents the
status quo, and in terms of diversity that is unsatisfactory."

When the report was released last fall, there were five black
coaches in the Division I-A. That number was reduced by almost half
when three coaches, including Willingham, were either fired or
quit. Willingham was later hired by Washington, which also received
a B.

Five schools -- Indiana, Illinois, Ohio University, UNLV and
Western Michigan -- received A's. Ohio and Western Michigan, both of
the Mid-American Conference, were the only schools to receive an A
in all five categories.

But five schools, including San Jose State and Southeast
Louisiana, received F's. Five others, including LSU, Florida and
The Citadel, received D's.

Indiana State, which hired West in January, received a C. It was
given an F for its search committee, a grade that Harrison said
meant no minorities were included on the committee.

"It's very important to highlight the schools that received A's
and their best practices," said Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice
president for diversity and inclusion. "It's especially important,
though, to realize they are in the minority. ... It is an appalling
situation."

But Harrison explained the grades were objective.

For instance, Harrison said he personally questioned why Notre
Dame would give new coach Charlie Weis a long-term contract
extension after starting 5-2 in his first season while not offering
the same kind of job security to Willingham when he started out 8-0
in his first season at Notre Dame. The report card, however, is not
designed to weigh subjective opinions.

"It's impossible to quantify that aspect," Harrison said.

Keith has repeatedly urged recruits to use the report card as a
gauge for school choices, and said the BCA would consider future
legal action against universities if there is not significant
improvement in next year's report.

"The BCA hopes all future recruits of color give consideration
to the schools that give consideration to people of color because
then, and only then, will there be a change in the hiring
process," he said.