College Football Lagging Behind In Diversity

Who knew sports and politics had so much in common. In America, both are rooted deep in our social fabric and possess a certain irony. In fact, a bizarre connection is evident. The nation’s first African American president was inaugurated Jan.20. If you think that alone is a telling sign of the times, then you should focus on the sidelines of college football fields across the U.S. If you focus hard enough, it will become very clear.

It’s unfortunate that the giant step occurring in American politics isn’t true of college campuses across the United States — primarily at Division 1-A schools with football programs. At least in terms of perceived value, the sport is larger than the institutions which house them.

Frankly, it is astounding that a black man is ready to lead a nation in a state of economic decline, but black men are perceived to be incapable and unqualified to lead some of the nation’s top college football programs. The election of Barack Obama as our 44th president certainly serves as a sign of progress at the highest level, but there’s a lot of work to be done below the executive branch, where irony exceeds logic.

Over a month ago, only three of the men who served as head football coach at 119 Division 1-A schools were of African-American descent. That number increased to seven. It was not an attempt to catch up with other sports, but rather to save face by exercising a certain degree of political correctness. Furthermore, those seven have been reduced to coaching jobs at lesser schools, signifying the long overdue trend still has not made its way to a larger platform.

Not even college football’s governing body can offer a watershed moment. Although the NCAA cannot select head coaches, it can legislate change beginning with a rule that requires teams to interview a black candidate before hiring a coach. But the real power lies within the institution itself – one even more powerful than the NCAA that governs it. School presidents and athletic directors are pressured by wealthy boosters and a board of directors alike. Thus, those in power are forced to make their subordinates a priority, rather than much needed diversity.

Will college football ever change its rigid ways based on old traditions? Essentially the issue and politics are one in the same. Both involve a society seeking change in the current white-dominated system. Both bring large masses to congregate and unite. Citizens’ views comprise the approval rating of politicians, while college football uses a grading system to evaluate the aspect of fairness in the hiring process. Politics and sports are parallel even in their end results. Both try, to a certain degree, to succeed in reaching change.

If America can do it, college football can too.