Tuesday, December 08, 2009

7331: Putting Diversity In The Game Plan.


Minority coaches gaining traction in football

By Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY

College football is seeing some minority hiring gains.

Virginia on Monday became the third major school in a little more than a week to name an African American as head coach, giving Richmond coach and former UVa defensive coordinator Mike London a five-year contract for $1.7 million a year.

It brings to 12 the number of minority head coaches in the 120-school Football Bowl Subdivision. That’s a record, though the representation is low in a sport in which nearly two-thirds of all players are minorities. African Americans were named last month to lead programs at Western Kentucky (Willie Taggart) and Memphis (Larry Porter).

Ongoing searches could yield more. Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has talked to Louisville. Buffalo head coach and ex-Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill, who already counts among the 12, is a Kansas target.

Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches and Administrators, said he’s hopeful of a turning point. “We’ll know at the end of this (hiring and firing) cycle,” he said. “But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the front end of the cycle be this productive.”

Ex-NFL coach Tony Dungy, who is working with the NCAA on the issue, expressed encouragement, though he’s tracking the location of hires as much as the numbers. Randy Shannon of Miami (Fla.) was the only one of 2009’s nine minority coaches in one of the six marquee conferences: Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern.

Virginia’s London makes a second, and Louisville and/or Kansas could raise the count.

“I’m hoping this is a signal,” Dungy said. “But … the BCS schools, that’s the place we have to look, because that’s where you have a chance to win a national championship.”

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