Blog Image

AAE Keeping Score

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 by Tyrone Lockhart              Twitter Icon Link   Facebook Icon Link   Leave a Comment

Why AAE is keeping score off the field of play

Collegiate sports ? or any sports, for that matter ? are all about keeping score. Although we recognize the vast benefits of simply participating in collegiate sports, including camaraderie, sportsmanship, and working as a team, at the end of the game we?re all looking at the final score. Who won? And who lost?

Lately, the team here at Advocates for Athletic Equality has been tallying up a series of major losses. That?s because we?ve been keeping score of what?s happening off the basketball court, the football field and on the sidelines of any number of college games being played across America. We?re looking at what appears to be an unfair system when it comes to hiring college coaches.

We realize we?re on the losing end of any gains we may have made in ensuring that ethnic minorities in both men and women sports are represented in the top coaching ranks of the very sports that many of them have excelled at.

Basketball inequalities

In the game of basketball, it?s particularly difficult for many people to comprehend why blacks can make up about 60 percent of collegiate teams but only make up a small percentage of the head coaching ranks of that same sport.

Just take a look at what?s happening in the Men?s Basketball Power 5 Conference, which includes the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC. Out of 7 coaches who were recently let go or resigned, three were ethnic minority male coaches and four were white male coaches. Their replacements? All white male coaches. Not a single ethnic minority hired to replace the departing coaches from colleges that included Stanford, Oklahoma State, TCU, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Pittsburg and Rutgers. Yes, we?re keeping score. And we consider that a major loss.

In Division I Women?s College Basketball (excluding HBCU?s), 37 openings for head coach were recently vacant. Five of the 19 replacements so far were ethnic minorities ? 26.3 percent of the new hires. That doesn?t sound too bad until you consider that 12 of the 37 total coaches who were fired or didn?t have their contracts renewed were minority coaches. The score? We?re down a total of 7 in that division. 
There are other divisions that reflect the same patterns. More losses and too few gains in the representation of minority coaches in college sports.

So, yes, that?s why AAE is keeping score. We consider these recent hiring activities as a major setback in our efforts to promote well-qualified minority coaches as potential hires for these positions. It always has been our belief that the hiring process for coaches be a fair and open process that gives all candidates an equal chance. 

Hiring process not so open

Sports, in general, has a hiring process that?s not at all straightforward. While there are plenty of minority candidate with strong credentials, all too often they?re bypassed or not even considered. They can?t even get an interview. And that?s one of the challenges they face. It?s not about having the right qualifications; it?s whether you?re able to get in the inner circle ? the network of search firms and insiders recommending candidates for interviews.

The discrepancies are further evident when you take a look at what happens in one of those instances when a white male coach is fired or released. In many cases, a door opens almost immediately  and they are rehired at another institution without any retribution. On the other hand, when a minority coach is fired, in most instances, he or she may have to take a job as an assistant coach and prove themselves again. Or, in some cases, not ever get the opportunity to become a head coach again.

While AAE has been building relationships with those search firms, identifying qualified minority candidates for consideration; we can?t help but be disheartened by what seems to be a consistently unfair scoring system in the collegiate coaching ranks. The need to level the playing field is long overdue. Particularly if the goal of those who run college sports is to increase the diversity of coaches and athletic administrators.