Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Halfway Home for Black Coaches

October 4, 2002 Columns No Comments

Halfway Home

by Brian Strong

“If Mike Krzyzewski can help Tommy Amaker with a career move, then why is it that Lou Holtz can’t seem to help out [his assistant] Charlie Strong?”…

It’s a strong point that was presented to viewers by CBS’ Tim Brando, as he and studio partner Spencer Tillman recently mulled over the progress of minorities in coaching.

On the one hand, Brando’s comment says many negative things about the state of football, one of this country’s two most popular college sports. With all due respect to Tyrone Willingham’s recent coup at Notre Dame, the glaring numbers – 4 black coaches out of 117 – are still nothing short of ugly and an intolerable embarrassment to sports culture and society in general.

On the other hand, a.k.a. the relatively bright side, Brando’s comments do lend a certain deserved amount of credit to the sport of college basketball. Believe me, I know that college basketball, and most sports for that matter, are still not where they could be and will be with regard to hiring black head coaches. As Miami’s Perry Clark said, prior to Indiana’s Mike Davis and Oklahoma’s Kelvin Sampson meeting in last year’s Final Four, “I’m not so sure two minority coaches [in the Final Four] is as significant as some people make it out to be. I think it would be significant if we get to the point where something like this isn’t even noteworthy.”

However, with 93 black men in the top spots at the 324 NCAA division one men’s basketball programs, we should still give credit to the sport of college basketball for cracking open the door. As fans of college hoops, we can take some pride in the fact that twenty-plus years ago, the sport of college basketball allowed high-profile outspoken minority coaches like John Chaney, John Thompson, and Nolan Richardson to take over the spotlight. Those men begat Tubby Smith, Sampson, and Ernie Kent’s (Ore.) generation, who have been followed by Davis, Stan Heath (Arkansas), and the crop of younger guys who are attempting to take things even further today. Meanwhile, the heads of college football programs and their professional equivalents in the NFL continue to make a mockery of the talent and desire to lead that so many black coaches in their sport possess.

College basketball, as I said before, it’s not where it could be with this situation, but it’s getting encouragingly closer and closer to the point where black coaches are just plain coaches. They’re still in the business of groundbreaking, but their most important business, which at last check was booming for this group, is in the Elite Eight and Final Four. Davis, Sampson, Kent, and Heath’s teams accounted for half of the squads who were at least one game away from the Final Four last season.

It’s all a steady progression, which has taken black coaches from being stereotyped as just “great motivators” and “great recruiters” to men who have gained respect as a group in this game. And we can hopefully look forward to the day when the National Association of Black Coaches will be able to tone down its aggressive lobbying and I won’t have to write anymore ridiculous columns about how great it is that blacks are doing well in coaching. It will just be the standard.

Conversely, at the rate football’s going – 5% black Division 1-A head coaches in ’95-’96 down to 2% now – football websites won’t be writing a column like this one praising this type of progress in their sport for another twenty years. Athletic directors will either allow their football programs to follow the path that basketball has laid or risk being left in the dust with the Old Boys Network.

So, once again, congrats to college hoops for being ahead of the game. Just make sure to keep increasing the score.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2017

April 4, 2017 by

We look back at Monday’s national championship game, which was not a thing of beauty but had plenty of drama. Along the way we share some post-game quotes from both coaches.

College Basketball Tonight – April 2, 2017

April 3, 2017 by

In our Final Four special edition, three head coaches join us to offer their insights on the Final Four, as well as their own programs.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 2, 2017

April 2, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the national semifinal contests and then look ahead to an intriguing matchup for the national championship that is ahead of us on Monday night.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout