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May 25, 2004

Coaches School Is Now In Session

FROM THE SOMEWHERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF “REMEMBER THE TITANS” comes the latest initiative to balance a college football imbalance.

The imbalance involves the makeup of the head coaching positions among the 117 Division I-A football programs. And the numbers are lopsided indeed: over 30% of Division I-A players are African-American, but only 4.3% of head coaches are African-American.

Cognizant of the imbalance, several Div. I-A schools have appeared to make a somewhat legitimate effort to consider an African-American as head coaches. However, the chronic excuse has been that African-American candidates lack the background and experience necessary for the big Div. I-A jobs.

It’s a classic Catch 22 situation. The same reasons that African-Americans have been precluded from stepping stone positions (that would provide the requisite experience) are often the same reasons for their inability to land Div. I-A jobs.

How to break the cycle?

Borrowing a page from the Head Start program of the sixties, the NCAA established the Coaches Academy last year to promote coaching diversity. The Academy curriculum has been designed to instill advanced football coaching skills to minority candidates, as well as foster networking / mentoring with high profile coaches.

The goal is to develop a pool of hirable candidates for emerging positions, be they at the D2, D1-AA or D1-A level.

The skill enhancement areas run the gamut from the theory pf passing offenses to clock management to “values clarification.”

The Coaches Academy is split up into three levels of study. The first level—the Advanced Coaching Program—took place in January.

The second level—the Expert Coaching Program will take place from June 1-3 in Indianapolis. The esteemed faculty will be Bill Walsh, former San Francisco 49er coach; Brian Billrick, coach of the Baltimore Ravens and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

Out of 40 applicants, 12 ethnic minority coaches were chosen for the Expert Coaching Program:

• Vantz Singletary, Hawaii

• Ron English, Michigan

• Don Thompson, Illinois-Champaign

• Norries Wilson, Connecticut

• James Reese III, Tennessee State

• Mark Gale, Marshall

• Rodney Gardner, Georgia

• David Kelly, Duke

• Buzz Preston, Notre Dame

• Jim Salgado, Northeastern

• Charles Bankins, Hampton

• William Lund, Colby

All members of the student body are assistant coaches, except for Reese, who is a head coach.

The third tier will be the Executive Coaching Program.

Someday schools will hire a coach, not a color.

(this 398 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from a 1237 word article in the NCAA News of 5-24-04)