According to a May 19th article in the NY Times, college basketball hiring practices may be in for some scrutiny. In 2005, just over 25 percent of college head basketball coaches were African-American. By 2010, that number had fallen to 21 percent. That’s troubling news for a sport that boasts 61 percent African-American players.
According to the article, college hoops is still one of the more racially diverse sports in terms of head-coach hiring, but the decline over a five year period still strikes a chord. George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt weighed in on the factors that he thinks may be turning the tables a bit. He thinks professional search firms may be skewing the applicant pool a bit, and that push-back against the AAU pipeline may also account for some of the problem.
“That’s how I came up in 1989 — working at camps at Syracuse and Georgetown and getting my name out there to coaches,” Hewitt told the paper. “I didn’t play Division I basketball, and to get my name out there, I had to market myself. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As far as the search firms, it just adds another variable that’s an unknown. Who do they know? Is diversity a priority?”
Just one BCS conference will field more than 50 percent black head coaches, according to the article. The SEC will have seven African-American basketball coaches next season, and the addition of first-year South Carolina head coach Frank Martin — who has Cuban roots — makes for eight minority leaders out of fourteen overall.
Former Georgetown coach John Thompson said the South has always gotten a bad rap in terms of diversity.
“The North has always profited from that perception,” he told the NYT. “and it’s totally incorrect. In the South, there are certainly problems, but at least people are more conscious of those problems.”