|BCA considers court challenge to change college football hiring process|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2007 13:06|
So when the BCA released its fourth hiring report card Tuesday, it came with a warning: Add more diversity to the head coaching ranks or risk facing a future civil rights lawsuit.
``Whether it's the (NFL's) Rooney Rule or the Eddie Robinson Rule or Title VII, I'm not sure,'' executive director Floyd Keith said. ``But something is needed.''
Title VII is civil rights legislation that could be used as the basis for a lawsuit.
While Keith acknowledges there has been progress, he believes the changes are occurring too slowly and wants to see more substantial end results. In short, more minority coaches hired.
The record shows that of 197 head coaching vacancies since 1996, only 12 have gone to black coaches and only 26 blacks have ever been hired at Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
This season began with 12 minority coaches at the 220 football-playing non-historically black colleges and universities in the FBS and Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A and I-AA. One of those, Indiana State's Lou West, was fired two weeks ago after going 1-25 in a little more than two seasons with the Sycamores.
And of the 33 jobs that opened after last season, Miami and Florida International were the only schools to make minority hires. Randy Shannon was hired at Miami and Mario Cristobal, a Hispanic, took over at Florida International.
Georgia Tech men's basketball coach Paul Hewitt, the BCA president, called those numbers embarrassing.
The BCA's response may be going to court.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Keith said his group would be looking for the right case - something Hewitt appears to support.
``If somebody gave me a timeline as to how long it would take and what's possible, sure, let's go that route,'' Hewitt said. ``I'm really more interested in getting more interviews for candidates.''
Other supporters, however, believe the most expeditious path to change would be persuading athletic directors and university presidents to embrace diversity on the sideline.
``I'm probably much more optimistic that the pipeline is getting so thick and so long that it will bust and that a lot more individuals would be hired faster and sooner without a lawsuit,'' said Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president of diversity and inclusion.
Legal action would be a tactical change from the BCA's previous attempt to publicly expose schools for their poor scores on hiring practices, but Keith warned in 2002 that it was a possibility if there was not significant progress.
This year's report card shows 11 schools received overall grades of A, the second most in the four years of the report, but also a record number of schools (10) received an F.
Two schools, Georgia Southern and San Diego, received all F's for not responding to the BCA survey, the second straight time neither school participated. Other major schools receiving an overall F included Alabama, Air Force and Louisville.
Four schools - Florida International, Iowa State, Michigan State and Stanford - got straight A's even though three of those schools hired white coaches. Other prominent schools receiving an overall A were Cincinnati, Miami and North Carolina.
The data also show that while 54.5 percent of the schools received an A or B, that was a decline from last year's 57.7 percent and is a significant drop over the 64.3 percent compiled in the inaugural report of 2003-04.
The statistics prompted Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at Central Florida, to call football the most segregated sport in college athletics.
``We have called on the NCAA and president Myles Brand to adopt an 'Eddie Robinson Rule,' a college version of the NFL's Rooney Rule,'' he wrote in a statement included in the report. ``The BCA is also seriously looking at initiating Title VII civil rights lawsuits against schools. We need more tools to fully open the doors of opportunity.''
The Rooney Rule has resulted in a gradual increase in black coaches around the NFL although the number dropped from a record seven to six this season when Art Shell and Dennis Green were fired and Mike Tomlin was hired in Pittsburgh.
Keith also cited Tomlin as an example of the existing problem in the NCAA; Keith said three colleges were interested in Tomlin but only one interviewed him before he took the Steelers job.
``We have to keep working so we make sure those kinds of mistakes are not made,'' Keith said.
Keith said there have been discussions between the BCA, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, FBS athletic directors and executives at the NCAA to implement something similar to the Rooney Rule, but Westerhaus contends the NCAA does not have the authority to enforce such a rule.
``We've maintained that mandated interviews are not appropriate because those processes are all within the institutional policies,'' she said. ``Institutions have their own policies about how to hire coaches and professors.''
Other findings in the report:
-Schools, on the average, have 4.31 on-campus interviews per opening and that minority candidates account for 1.27 of those, a B on the BCA's grading scale.
-The average search committee consists of 6.2 members, while minorities account for 1.56 of those. That's also a B. The BCA contends that for each minority on the committee, the number of minority interviewed increases slightly.
-Minorities lost ground on search committees, one of the categories that accounts for the overall grade, this year. That percentage dropped from 25 percent in 2005-06 to 24 percent this year.
-And, perhaps a promising sign, that more than half the 33 schools earned A's or B's in four of the five categories that are graded. Those categories are: number of communications with the BCA, reasonable amount of time conducting the search, inclusion of minority candidates among the finalists and adherence to the school's affirmative action policy.