Minority Progress in NCAA Hiring

Robert P. Stephens II | 12/22/2009, 3:51 p.m.

While the NFL has made progress in the hiring of minority coaches, the NCAA lags far behind. Out of 120 schools, only 13 have Black head football coaches. Of the BCS Schools, only the University of Miami, Fl., has a Black head coach, Randy Shannon.

But progress was made last week with the hiring of Mike London, the new head coach at the University of Virginia, an ACC school. London, formerly the coach at Richmond, signed a five-year, $8.5 million deal.

London was voted 2008 FCS National Coach of the Year after leading the University of Richmond to a national championship. Prior to becoming the head coach, London was Richmond€s linebackers€ coach and head recruiter.

€Coach London€s experience as a championship head coach, combined with a variety of college coaching assignments, positions him for success at the University of Virginia,€ said Athletic Director Craig Littlepage.

Mike London University of Richmond's coach Courtesy Photo
Also breaking through the black coaching glass ceiling was Charlie Strong, who was hired by the University of Louisville to become their next head coach. Strong was the defensive coordinator at Florida.

€This is an extraordinary breakthrough. We have been battling this since 1987,€ said Floyd Keith, President of the Black Coaches Association.

Strong, who has been in the coaching business for 26 years, becomes only the second black coach in SEC Conference history. The first was Sylvestor Croom of Mississippi State. Croom coached the Bulldogs from 2004 to 2008 before resigning, and is now the running backs coach for the St. Louis Rams.

Strong first became a defensive coordinator at the University of South Carolina in 1999, and then came to Florida in 2003 to take a similar position with the Gators. Strong is considered one of the top recruiters in college football.

€I never thought this would happen,€ Strong said of his hiring.

Two days later, the University of Kansas in the Big Eight Conference hired Buffalo head coach Turner Gill. Gill, who played quarterback at the University of Nebraska, had been the head coach at the University of Buffalo for four years.

Charlie StrongCourtesy Photo
He was selected as the Mid American Conference Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Prior to his hiring at Buffalo, Gill was head of player development with the Green Bay Packers and the wide receivers€ coach at Nebraska.

Other coaching moves include the hiring of alumnus Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, who was an assistant coach at Stanford, and Larry Porter, an assistant coach at LSU who is now the head coach at Memphis State.

€We now have 13 coaches; four more than we have ever had,€ Floyd said. €There are so many factors in hiring a head coach in these times - the [college] presidents, the athletic directors, the search groups, the political factors, the financial groups and the school itself, but progress is being made.€