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BCA to Grade Hiring Efforts

The Black Coaches Assn. will monitor the filling of football job openings with a report card.

October 22, 2003|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

College football has unveiled a new ranking system for tracking performance. You might call it the BCA standings.

Angered that only four of 117 Division I coaches are minorities, the Black Coaches' Assn. announced Tuesday a grading system to monitor football hiring practices at major institutions.

The first "hiring report card" will be posted in October 2004 and grades will be based on:

* Contact with the BCA during the hiring process.

* Efforts to interview candidates of color.

* The number of minorities involved in the hiring process.

* The time frame for each search.

* Adherence to institutional affirmative action hiring policies.

Floyd Keith, BCA executive director, says no school will have to follow these guidelines.

"If you want to get an F, you can get an F on this report card," Keith said at a news conference at NCAA offices in Indianapolis.

An example of how the grading system works: If a school contacts the BCA four times during its coaching search, it will receive a letter grade of A. Failure to contact will result in an F.

In the "time frame" component, an institution will receive grades based on how long it takes to hire a coach: two to four weeks earns an A, 10 days a B, five days a C, three days a D, and one day an F.

A letter grade will be affixed to each of the five components, and the average will result in a school's overall grade.

Keith Harrison, a University of Michigan professor who will be responsible for overseeing the system, says the time-frame component was inspired partly by the coaching hires at Washington and Washington State in the last year.

Washington hired Keith Gilbertson, who is white, one day after Rick Neuheisel's firing, and Bill Doba, also white, immediately succeeded Mike Price at Washington State.

"We think that's justification for holding them accountable," Harrison said.

The BCA report card system was endorsed by NCAA President Myles Brand. "I draw the conclusion that there's something wrong with the process," Brand said of hiring procedures.

Keith said he would like to see a 20% minority rate for all major-college coaches hired between now and 2005.

"If there's 100 vacancies between now and that time, we should have 20 positions," Keith said.

Keith said this is not a "quota system," but a way of measuring progress.

He also added that if hiring procedures didn't improve, legal action might be taken.

"That's a possibility in 2005," Keith said. "And none of us want to go there.... We shouldn't have to go there, but we're not afraid to make a stand."

The paucity of black head coaches has been one of college football's most sensitive issues, given that nearly 50% of the players are minorities.

The four black coaches in Division I-A are Karl Dorrell of UCLA, Tyrone Willingham of Notre Dame, Fitz Hill of San Jose State and Tony Samuel of New Mexico State.

The Southeastern Conference has never had a black head football coach. The BCA now has a chance to apply its grading system to SEC member Mississippi State, which seeks a coach now that Jackie Sherrill has announced his retirement at the end of this season.

Keith said he did not know what Mississippi State would do.

"All I know is what the average is," he said of the SEC. "It's 0 for ever."

This week, Mississippi State Athletic Director Larry Templeton told the (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger, "I'm not looking to hire a white coach or a black coach. I'm looking to hire the best coach."

The NCAA is assisting the BCA by funding an "academy program," which will help identify, develop, nurture and promote top minority candidates for head-coaching positions.

"In terms of white-ness, there is an infrastructure in place," Harrison said. "It's who you know."

He also said minority coaches should be considered based on ability.

"It's about talent, not tokenism," Harrison said.

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