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Most Division I schools get passing grades

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Black Coaches Association still wants
more minority hires in college football. But the group's new report
card finds that most Division I schools are increasing their
efforts to include minorities in the search process.

Seventeen of 28 Division I-A and I-AA schools received either an
A or B in the report released Wednesday. Six schools were given a D
or F. The group rated only those schools that had coaching
vacancies after the 2003 season.

Only one I-A school actually hired a minority head coach --
Sylvester Croom became the Southeastern Conference's first black
head football coach when he took the job at Mississippi State.

"When you look at one of 28 we're not happy," BCA executive
director Floyd Keith said. "We're not happy with the results, but
it is what it is."

The only I-A school to receive an F was Nevada-Reno, which
rehired Chris Ault for his third stint with the school. Ault had
been the school's athletic director since 1986 but resigned that
post in December.

Nevada-Reno did not turn in the requested survey, which the BCA
said would result in an automatic F. School officials did not
immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Southern Utah, the University of San Diego and Texas State, all
I-AA schools, also received F grades. The report said those with an
F were far below par and needed to re-examine the entire hiring
process.

Kent State was the only I-A school to receive a D.

Grades are based on results in categories that included the
percentage of minorities involved in the hiring process, the number
of minority candidates who received interviews and the schools'
contacts with either Keith or the chairman of the NCAA's Minority
Opportunity and Interests Committee.

Keith Harrison, director of the Paul Robeson Research Center for
Academic and Athletic Prowess, compiled the data for the BCA and
said some of the results were better because of factors such as how
long the search took.

Six I-A schools -- Akron, Arizona, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan,
Texas-El Paso and Mississippi State -- received the highest grade.
Two Division I-AA schools -- Cornell and Holy Cross -- also received an
A. Cornell was the only school with a perfect score.

Even Nebraska, which Keith had criticized for hiring former
Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan, got a B. Callahan is white.

"Nebraska probably would have gotten an A if there was a little
more diversity on the search committee," Keith said. "But they
graded high on everything else. The bottom line is that they got a
B."

But after three years of prodding, Keith and his group are
concerned that little progress has been made. Only five of 117
Division I-A head coaches, less than 4 percent, are black. In
Division I-AA, the gap is even more pronounced -- there are no
minority head coaches, other than those working at historically
black institutions.

"Right now, candidates of color have a better chance to be a
general in the U.S. Army than they have of being named a head
football coach, and that is not right," Keith said, citing a statistic
showing 8.3 percent of generals are minorities.

To help change the image of college football, Harrison
recommended the NCAA mandate schools' participation in the BCA's
report card survey and create a penalty-and-reward system similar
to one created this year for academic progress.

College football's most prominent black coach, Notre Dame's
Tyrone Willingham, thinks the media also need to be involved.

"My point is you guys have a huge impact on that, because
people do read what you write," Willingham said before the report
was released. "I may be wrong, but I don't see very many stands
from many of you guys, from any of your publications. I get a lot
of heads nodding, but, come on, man, you've got to step up to the
plate."

In Keith's mind, the work has only just begun.

He intends to expand the report card to include women's
basketball head coaches and athletic directors. For now, Keith is
concentrating his efforts on football coaches.

"We have a course to get this right and we'll follow that
course," Keith said. "This is not going to go away, and we will
continue until see we see changes made across the board."