White affirmative action is alive and well

And it’s living in college football. According to the New York Times, only four out of 119 NCAA coaches in Division 1 football are African American. This amounts to 3.4% in a sport where 50% of the players are black.

The latest high-profile example occurred at Auburn, where the university chose a white coach who had failed miserably at his previous job over a black coach who had turned his college’s program around and made it highly successful. Clearly there are double standards. At perhaps the country’s most visible and prestigious college football program, Notre Dame made headlines by hiring Tyrone Willingham as its first black coach, but after one good season and one bad one, abruptly fired him. Their next coach, Charlie Weiss, had nearly the same results and was given a seven year contract extension and a big raise. He remains on the job in spite of just finishing another horrible season.

At least Willingham has been able to find head coaching jobs after being fired. While the NCAA coaching mill is full of re-treads, no other African American coach has been able to find a head coaching job after being terminated.

This is a disgrace and looks like white affirmative action. You would think that if the public is willing to vote overwhelmingly for an African American president, the athletic directors and college presidents at these colleges and universities could find some coaches who better reflect the demographics of their teams. According to the Times, only 9.2% of the athletic directors and 2.5% of the college presidents are African American. That might explain something.

More about affirmative action.

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5 Responses to “White affirmative action is alive and well”

  1. Libertarian1 says:

    In professional football and professional basketball 50%-80% of the players are black. In those college sports overwhelmingly high percentages of players there are also black. Could it be conceivable that the same reason applies for that “abnormality” as it does for the choices of coaches? Merit.

  2. John says:

    As a white diversity professional, Affirmative Action Officer, and EEO Officer at a major institution and being in this profession for over 20 years, I can appreciate your position although in some points I do have a different take on what you have written and I am certainly not white affirmative action based.

    I always cringe when anyone uses percentages because you seem to indicate that because a majority of players 50% are Black then there should be a corresponding number of Black coaches or at least a much higher percentage. If that were so, then why in institutions where the majority is white, should that institution have affirmative action to hire underrepresented categories? I would never state because there is such a percentage of this or that then we should have leaders whether they be coaches or executives in comparable percentages that must be that color. We are then basing hires on race and not on qualifications.

    I have 89% women and minorities working at my institution with many departments being nearly 100% Black. I have had the Black departmental heads ask me how they could hire White employees to have true diversity since at this time they do not. My answer to both is the same. You have to hire the best qualified person for the position regardless of their background, national origin, or color. I agree with you with the Auburn hire which I consider an absolute farce and they should be investigated by the EEOC and the OFCCP.

    My question has always been in college football that don’t all colleges and universities that accept federal money, i.e., student loans, grantes, etc. require an Affirmative Action plan? Of course they do and the OFCCP should look into the “good faith efforts” that universities are required to take when hiring any staff member. In Auburn’s case, that just did not happen. If we are to hold people accountable then having a university forfeit their federal money in the even of not taking good faith efforts might be the way to go.

    Coach Willingham just was not a good coach in the situations he faced with Notre Dame and lately with Washington going 0-12 in his last season and 4-9 the year before Any coach in today’s NCAA environment would have been scrutinzed and/or fired and he was this year as well.

    It has taken a generation or so but there are quality Black representation in the NCAA ranks within the pipeline such as Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, etc. that are and should be given high priority consideration.

    Your point with the percentages again of athletic directors and college presidents say something I feel is not fully merited. That is because as we all know the vast majority of colleges and universities are extremely liberal and have multiple diversity and multicultural programs in place for hiring faculty and staff members. It would be an anathema to them not to hire a qualified Black professional given the chance to do so. Again, those who do not and the applicants passed over who are more qualified should file an EEOC complaint or one with the OFCCP. Maybe then we will see some action taken to continue to hire the most qualified and not, as Auburn insisted, was the “best fit” for the university. The “best fit” comment is another one that chills me because that is bad faith not good faith efforts.

  3. Clifford Tong says:

    Race should never be the only criteria for any job hire, promotion, salary raise, etc. and contrary to public opinion, I believe it rarely is. In reality, most of these decisions are based on a variety of factors, including how well the candidate in question will “fit in”, which I do not think is unreasonable. These factors however are largely intangible and subjective, leading to a system that is arguably not merit-based, especially when people have a tendency to hire those who look like them and have similar backgrounds. This makes diversity all the more challenging.

    BTW, you shouldn’t play “Monday morning quarterback” with Willingham and Weis’ current records. The fact is that their win/loss records after two seasons were very similar, and one got canned and the other got a big raise. Very rarely will a major college football coach get fired after only two seasons because they wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play their own recruits and usually have a long-term contract. The fact that Willingham is black and was not a big favorite with the boosters is both suspicious and a disappointment.

  4. Jerrells Thompson says:

    It seems to me the investigation should be into why a group that only comprises 12% of the nation represents at more than half of the scholarships in D1 FBS. Are coaches and recruiters putting in a good faith effort to recruit standout players from small towns and rural areas in the midwest? Are they looking in the exurb areas of big cities? What happens of a white kid with amazing stats gets overlooked, do they have a freaking EEOC to file a complaint to? Hell no they don’t. Down with all this racist propoganda. You know we live in a backwards world where we say all the players should be black, and thus all the coaches should be too. I look at it the other way: “you mean you can’t find 119 qualified WHITE coaches?” “You can’t find 60% qualified WHITE athletes to give scholarships too?” Until the majoritity of the scholarship recipients are white, we cannot even address the coaching issue.

  5. Clifford Tong says:

    It is interesting that you would choose athletics to make your point. I think most people would agree that this is one of the few endeavors that is as close to a merit-based system as there is – either you can play or you can’t. Most other professions have at least some degree of subjectivity when it comes to hiring, firing, and promotions.

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