White Hire at Alcorn State Reignites Coaching Debate

Critics say HBCUs aren't doing a thorough job finding and retaining Black coaching candidates, while the schools say they just want the best person — regardless of race.

Posted: 06/04/2012 03:13 PM EDT

In an era when Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are actively recruiting non-Black students and find themselves home to award-winning sports teams with no Blacks on the roster, the hiring of a white football coach at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, shouldn’t make anyone bat an eyelash. However, when college coaching jobs are hard to come by and even harder to obtain at majority white colleges, not everyone is feeling the love behind the newfound surge of diversity in HBCU sports. The New York Times writes:


“'In my studies, people say the reason that they have not hired an African-American to lead their Division I program is because there aren’t any qualified African-American coaches,' [Fitzgerald Hill, author of “Crackback: How College Football Blindsides the Hopes of Black Coaches”] said. 'We couldn’t find one — that’s been the story for the last 20 years. Alcorn is saying the same thing. If the majority schools can’t find any and the H.B.C.U.s can’t find any, where does the black coach go?'


Alcorn’s president, Christopher Brown II, defended the selection.

He pointed out that of the thousands who coach football at the college and professional level, he received 51 applications for the position. 'There was a pool of candidates,' he said. 'I had to look at who was in my pool. Do I start calling every head coach in America to say, ‘Why didn’t you apply for this job?’ I don’t think so.'


For African-American coaches looking for the plum, well-paying assistants’ jobs, historically black colleges and universities often are not a prime destination. Especially not a school in rural Mississippi paying the head coach in the vicinity of $150,000 a year. Just as blue-chip black athletes flock to predominantly white intercollegiate programs, top black assistants aim for those bigger programs, not those at historically black colleges, which are underfinanced and lack the charisma and prestige. Those positions are not seen as steppingstones to the so-called big time."


Read the full story here.



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