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NCAA Reaches Out to Minority Coaches

January 14, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Seeking increased minority representation in football coaching, the NCAA board of directors introduced plans for a coaches' academy and a mentor program Monday during the NCAA convention in Anaheim.

"These programs are tailored for ethnic minorities, to create an environment for their future success," said Robert Hemenway, chairman of the board and a chancellor at Kansas. "The NCAA has interest in increasing the number of minority coaches in America."

Hemenway said the proposal would be addressed by the executive committee today, the last day of the convention. The programs, at an estimated cost of $180,000, will come up for formal approval in April.

The coaches' academy will include workshops on interview preparation, networking, resume building, media training and booster relations.

"We'll teach the types of things coaches need to be successful," Hemenway said.

The mentor program will build relationships between Division I minority coaches and veteran football coaches and athletic directors. When UCLA hired Karl Dorrell, he became only the 18th African American head football coach in Division I-A history.

"Our minority opportunities committee will work with coaches to position them for these positions," NCAA President Myles Brand said. "Not only do we have too few in Division I football, but we have too few in coordinators' positions -- and that is the real pipeline to head coaching jobs.

"This issue needs persistence. It is of high priority to me to bring attention to the talent of these coaches."

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The board of directors' meeting included a lengthy exchange on Title IX, the 30-year-old federal law that requires gender equity in college athletics. Title IX is being reviewed by a blue-ribbon commission assembled by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, with a final report due Feb. 28.

"Board members are concerned Title IX will be eroded," Hemenway said. "There is a strong feeling within the board that Title IX should be supported.

"We should recognize the incredible change in our landscape due to Title IX. We think that's been a positive thing for this country."

Hemenway said he wasn't sure how his powerful body's staunch support of Title IX would affect either the commission's final report or how the Bush Administration acts upon the report.

"I don't know how to predict that," Hemenway said. "We just wanted to make sure we continue the progress we've made."

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Linda Will made a brief appearance at an NCAA panel discussion Sunday, but was escorted from the room less than 15 minutes into her stay because, the NCAA said, she lacked proper credentials. Will is the mother of Rashidi Wheeler, the Northwestern strong safety from La Verne Damien High who died of exercise-induced asthma after a preseason conditioning drill in August 2001.

"If I can just get someone in authority who has a real need to exact some constructive changes, who truly wants to see that for himself, instead of just being seen speaking about the issue of the day, I would feel really good about what's going on in here," Will said.

With a pending wrongful-death lawsuit against Northwestern, Will said she was most disturbed during her time in the NCAA session by a discussion of litigation.

"As long as there's this attitude here of, 'We've covered ourselves legally,' instead of doing what it truly takes to fix the problem, then I will continue to plead my case," she said.

"I mean, what's the deal? It's like not losing [a lawsuit] is the major victory for the NCAA. It is so powerful, with so much money, I think a lot of people who try to fight it feel like the NCAA is above the law."

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