Notre Dame gets B for minority hiring efforts

Updated: November 9, 2005, 6:41 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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