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Sunday, December 14, 2008
Minority Football Coaches and Civil Rights

The new-old controversy in college football is the lack of Black head coaches in Division I-A college football. With recent firings and resignations, there are four Black coaches (out of 119 schools) in a sport in which approximately 46 % of players are Black. Exacerbating this problem is the recent trend of current head coaches at major programs designating a current (usually white) top assistant as the new future head coach whenever the current coach retires, a process that pretermits any future coaching search in which outside, Black candidates might be considered for the job. Essentially, the practice locks-in the current state of coaching at many major schools.

Richard Lapchick, one of the leading scholars on collegiate sport, race, and society, criticizes this state of affairs. He argues that the NCAA should adopt a version of the NFL's "Rooney Rule," which requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching job. Lapchick calls his proposal the "Robinson Rule," after the late Eddie Robinson, the all-time-winningest D-I coach at historically back Grambling State (a D-I-AA school) who never even got an interview for a D-I-A head job.

So here are my questions for con law and employment-law types out there: Would such a rule be constitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment? The NCAA is not a state actor, but individual state schools would be in following and carrying out such a rule. So, given the current state of Equal Protection law, would it be unconstitutional for a governmental actor to automatically interview and give serious consideration to a minority for every position? Or, as to private schools, does it violate Title VII? Finally and conversely, would the NCAA's failure to adopt such a rule (or a similar rule designed to ameliorate the dearth of opportunities for minority coaches) violate Title VII (Lapchick reports that the Black Coaches Association is considering using Title VII to challenge current hiring practices)?


I think Charles Barkley -- a member of the media, if Rick Karcher is listening -- may have set back the cause of black coaches in the NCAA with these remarks:

Anonymous Rachel Neri -- 12/15/2008 1:38 PM  

Just throwing it out there, but I interviewed Lapchick, Floyd Keith, and Professor Jeremi Duru in discussing Title VII as a potential vehicle for minority coaches to gain access to more coaching opportunities. Florida Bar Journal, October 2007, Vol. 81, No. 9 "Leveling the Playing Field: Can Title VII Work to Increase Minority Coaching Hires in NCAA Athletics?"

Blogger Bram -- 12/17/2008 9:41 AM  

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