Jeff Goodman sent a direct message to Coach K and the elite coaches in college basketball. It’s time to fix the disparity between white and black coaches in the NCAA.
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Goodman hosted a roundtable on his CLNS Media Good N Plenty Podcast to discuss the representation issue. Black head coaches led only 18% of programs in college basketball’s top six conferences entering last season, 13% without the Big East.
“We don’t have that big voice, that has (spoken out) at the highest level,” Goodman said. “Why aren’t Coach K, why aren’t Calipari, why do we have to wait for black head coaches right now to come out and say that there needs to be more black head coaches? Why can’t the white head coaches come out and do that?”
Former Northeastern athletic director Peter Ruby, Tulsa AD Derrick Gragg, former coach Eddie Fogler and Baylor assistant Jerome Tang joined Goodman for the discussion. They shared the administrative and college basketball trends that have prevented legends like John Thompson from emerging in large numbers across the NCAA.
Tang argued changing responsibilities of the head coaching position have hurt. He trained his whole life to be the best head coach possible. The interview process now emphasizes institutional control, a search for a CEO, amid an era of NCAA infractions. He found coaching ability to be the fourth-ranking factor.
“If the person looks different than me,” he said. “I’ve got to get past that and get past them to understanding that I am easy to work with, I am someone that they can get along with. If the people who are helping make the decision are not in the room to figure that out, then I’m already at a disadvantage.”
Fogler, who conducts head coaching searches for schools, responded by pushing that responsibility on head coaches. In Tang’s example, Fogler suggested he push for more responsibility at an institutional level from Scott Drew at Baylor. Preparing assistants for that leap, he said, is part of the job of a head coach.
“It’s not an easy job,” he said. “It’s not for everybody … but they’ve been trained properly. They’ve been given the experience, they’ve been pushed to be better.”
Roby pushed back, referencing the weight of expectations. Coaches receive two years sometimes to revive failing programs. That’s not enough to create ties with alumni, carve recruiting roads and simply make the adjustment to the job.
“Those people had time to build the program,” he said. “They were at their respective programs for a long time, and they built it over time. They created a culture.