Diversity study: Number of black head coaches in FBS falls to four

Updated: November 6, 2008, 9:41 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Days after the election of the country's first black president, a study shows the number of African-American coaches in major college football is not growing.

With the recent dismissals of Ty Willingham at Washington and Ron Prince at Kansas State, the number of black head coaches in the 119-school NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision was reduced to four.

In 1997, there were eight black head coaches, the most in history. In 1993 and 2005, there were only three.

Fifty-five percent of all student athletes are minorities.

The report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida polled every major college on the ethnicity of its coaches, athletic directors, presidents, faculty, student athletes and NCAA faculty representatives.

"While the percentages are slightly better, the general picture is still one of white men running college sport," said Richard Lapchick, the report's co-author. "Overall, the numbers simply do not reflect the diversity of our student-athletes. Moreover, they do not reflect the diversity of our nation where we have elected an African-American as President for the first time."

The report also looked at university leadership, including presidents and athletic directors. Ninety-one percent are white. Minority representation in all positions increased less than 1 percent last year.

Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion, said she was disappointed in the figures, particularly considering the election.

"This moment on Tuesday reflected the best of our country," Westerhaus said. "Our country showed the will and the way. We have to do the same."

Lapchick has asked the NCAA to adopt a rule to mandate that minorities be interviewed for head coaching jobs. Calling it the "Eddie Robinson Rule," in reference to the record-setting Grambling coach, Lapchick said it would be a college version of the NFL's Rooney Rule. The NFL sanctions teams that do not interview a minority candidate.

Westerhaus said the Rooney Rule is in practice, if not rule.

"The vast majority of institutions interviewed coaches of color," she said. "It think it's 90 percent. We're doing some of the things the Rooney Rule calls for. What's disappointing is the hiring doesn't reflect that."

Last season, 30 percent of the candidates interviewed for 22 openings were minorities. Two were hired.

Since 1996, 12 black coaches have been hired for 199 jobs. The only black head coaches set to finish the season are Miami's Randy Shannon, Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, Buffalo's Turner Gill and Houston's Kevin Sumlin. Florida International is coached by Mario Cristobal, a Hispanic, and Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is Samoan.

Staffers for Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez told surveyors he is not Hispanic.

David Czesniuk of the Center for the Study of Sports in Society at Northeastern University, a program Lapchick founded, said he was struck by who controlled the money.

"What stood out to me, is that in the biggest component of dollars in college football is the BCS, and every single commissioner of a BCS conference is a white male," Czesniuk said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press