Behind the Blue Disk

Publish date: Apr 11, 2011

Minority Head Football Coaches

Does the NCAA promote equal opportunities in college sports? The NCAA takes a very active role in promoting diversity at every level of college sports. NCAA staff work with member schools and conferences to create advancement opportunities for coaches, administrators and student-athletes from all backgrounds.

What’s the status of minority head coaches in the NCAA? More work needs to be done. For example, about 13 percent of men’s head coaches and nearly 14 percent of women’s head coaches are racial minorities. In men’s basketball, about 25 percent of Division I head coaches are black. In some sports, particularly football, head coaching hirings are not as diverse as they should be.

How is the NCAA improving diversity among football coaches? The NCAA is addressing the issue in two ways. First, the NCAA encourages schools to embrace diversity and to hire minorities. Great coaches come from all different backgrounds and schools only hurt themselves by not hiring the most qualified candidate. Second, the NCAA is working hard to expand the pool of minority candidates through career advancement and professional development clinics. These programs are tailored specifically to assist minority football assistant coaches and coordinators with career advancement through skills enhancement, networking and exposure opportunities.

Does the NCAA have anything like the NFL’s “Rooney Rule?” The “Rooney Rule” is a National Football League policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching positions. Legally, the NCAA can’t adopt such a rule. The NFL is a for-profit business that is legally able to draft and enforce such policies. In contrast, the NCAA is a non-profit and voluntary member association which can’t influence individual campus hiring practices. However, in early 2008, Division I athletics directors recognized the problem and adopted hiring guidelines similar to the “Rooney Rule.” While voluntary, peer pressure plays a major role in ensuring schools comply with these guidelines. The main focus, however, should be getting minority coaches hired, not just interviewed.

Is there any good news on this front? Yes. In 2011, the number of black head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision rose from 14 to 17. There were eight black head coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision in 2011. While encouraging, everyone agrees there is still more work to be done in minority hiring.