College baseball intent on increasing Black players, coaches

Jun 23, 2022, 11:31 AM | Updated: 11:34 pm
Texas shortstop Trey Faltine throws to first for an out against Notre Dame during the ninth inning ...

Texas shortstop Trey Faltine throws to first for an out against Notre Dame during the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game Friday, June 17, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

(AP Photo/John Peterson)

              Beachballs set just on the other side of the outfield fence as the sun sets on Auburn and Arkansas as they play in the College World Series on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via AP)
              Texas' Dylan Campbell scores against Notre Dame during the fifth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game Friday, June 17, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
              Oklahoma left fielder Kendall Pettis (7) makes a catch for an out against Texas A&M in the sixth inning during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
              Texas shortstop Trey Faltine (0) loses the ball while trying to throw to first in the fourth inning against Notre Dame during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Friday, June 17, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
              Texas shortstop Trey Faltine throws to first for an out against Notre Dame during the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game Friday, June 17, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Anthony Holman is the highest-ranking NCAA official at the College World Series and the man in charge of the Division I baseball championship.

Holman is Black, and when he watches the games, he doesn’t see many people who look like him on the field or in the dugouts.

“I pay attention to it for sure,” he said, “and it’s disappointing. To have eight teams and maybe have a dozen or so folks of color, I think that’s something we should look to increase for sure.”

Baseball remains one of the least racially diverse college sports. There were fewer than two dozen Black players — and no Black head coaches or assistant coaches — among the eight teams that made it to the College World Series.

Of the 279 Division I teams not from historically Black colleges and universities, only 4% of players, 1% of the head coaches and 1% of assistant coaches were Black in 2021, according to the most recent NCAA research. While coaching staffs have remained mostly white with rare exception, the number of Black players at non-HBCU Division I schools went from 236 in 2012 to 434 in 2021.

“We have seen an uptick, and it’s much needed,” said Holman, NCAA managing director of championships and alliances.

Including HBCU teams, there were 665 Black players last year compared with 505 in 2012. As recently as 2014, there also were more white players (255) than Black (221) at HBCUs.

There will be four Black head coaches at non-HBCU schools in 2023, up from two this season.

Elton Pollock has been at Presbyterian for 18 years and Edwin Thompson for two years at Georgetown after five seasons at Eastern Kentucky. Kerrick Jackson was hired at Memphis last month, and Blake Beemer was announced as Butler’s new coach Tuesday.

Holman said he sees the hiring of Black head coaches as an important step when it comes to bringing more Black players into the game.

“If you don’t identify with a coach or other players, if you can’t see it, it’s tough to believe it,” Holman said. “We don’t want to lose a generation of players because there’s no path or no role model or no images for them to see.”

Jackson, the Memphis coach and chairman of the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Diversity in Baseball Committee, said his priorities are to generate funding for more programs aimed at introducing the sport to Black children, especially between the ages of 6 and 10, and developing a Black coaching pipeline at the high school and college levels.

“It’s one of those chicken-or-egg things,” Jackson said. “Do you need more coaches or do you need more players? I think we can go from both angles.”

There were only nine Black assistant coaches at non-HBCU Division I schools last year, so it will take time to get that pipeline flowing. Jackson said he wants to develop a network designed to identify Black players coming out of college or pro ball who show potential as coaches.

“We’re moving in the right direction when you look at what’s happened here in the last three weeks — me getting this opportunity here at the University of Memphis and then Blake Beemer getting the opportunity at Butler,” Jackson said. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to continue to make sure we provide opportunities to young coaches and players, and you have to start somewhere.”

The NCAA has partnered with Major League Baseball on initiatives to increase involvement of minorities as coaches, players and umpires, Holman said. MLB, the players’ union and others in 2020 pledged $10 million for programs intended to improve representation of Black players in all levels of baseball.

The NCAA also is working with MLB and the Jackie Robinson Foundation to start scholarship programs for Black players who might otherwise pursue football and basketball.

Football and basketball players receive full athletic scholarships. Baseball scholarships are capped at 11.7 per team, meaning most players receive partial aid, though the sport could see a dramatic increase in scholarships this fall once the NCAA’s Transformation Committee announces changes for modernizing NCAA governance.

Jackson said the number of Black players won’t increase immediately if baseball suddenly offers full scholarships.

“We can’t make the assumption that all Black folks are poor and that if baseball were more lucrative they would in turn decide to go with baseball because now it’s a full ride,” Jackson said.

“Now we’re making the assumption all the guys playing football and basketball are from low economic situations so they had to choose that,” he added. “Now we’re widening that gap and promoting those stereotypes that white kids play because they can afford to pay the difference in the college scholarship, and that’s not necessarily the case.”

Jackson said he was heartened at his introductory news conference at Memphis when a Black 12-year-old in attendance told him he wanted to be on hand to see a Black man get the head coaching job at the local university.

“He stood up during the press conference and asked, ‘When are you going to have camps because I want to come play for you,'” Jackson said. “It was this whole thing of, ‘Oh, wow, there’s someone who looks like me who is actually in charge. How do I become a part of that?’ We need to create more of those types of environments where we have more of these kids play.”


More AP college sports: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, drives to the basket toward Portland Trail Bl...
Associated Press

Bucks beat Trail Blazers 127-108 for 8th straight win

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brook Lopez scored 27 points and the Milwaukee Bucks stretched their winning streak to eight games with a 127-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Bucks led the whole way, pushing their advantage to 26 in the second […]
24 hours ago
Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole (3) passes the ball past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jal...
Associated Press

Thompson scores 42 points with 12 3s, Warriors beat Thunder

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With star teammate Stephen Curry sidelined, Klay Thompson kept shooting and took care of the offensive load the Golden State Warriors were missing without their reigning NBA Finals MVP. Thompson scored 42 points with a season-high 12 3-pointers, Jordan Poole added 21 points and career-best 12 assists starting in Curry’s place, […]
24 hours ago
Donna Kelce greets her sons, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, left, and Kansas City Chiefs t...
Associated Press

Donna Kelce brings cookies for sons at Super Bowl opener

PHOENIX (AP) — Donna Kelce brought cookies to Super Bowl opening night. The mother of All-Pros Travis and Jason Kelce surprised her sons during an interview with NFL Network’s Michael Irvin with two batches of cookies — one for each. “It’s just been amazing that they’ve both been able to get to this point in […]
24 hours ago
Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) and Minnesota Wild center Sam Steel collide in the secon...
Associated Press

Chrychrun scores twice as Coyotes beat Wild 3-2

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jakob Chychrun had two goals, Jack McBain scored the tie-breaking goal on a breakaway with seven minutes remaining and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night. McBain put a back-hander past Marc-Andre Fleury moments after the Coyotes killed off an abbreviated 55-second power play. Karel Vejmelka had […]
24 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks Josh Green (8) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, left, defe...
Associated Press

Green, Hardy help Mavs surprise Jazz 124-111 without Doncic

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kyrie Irving hadn’t arrived yet and Luka Doncic was out, so it was time for the Dallas youngsters to shine. Josh Green and Jaden Hardy each scored career highs of 29 points and the short-handed Mavericks stunned the Utah Jazz 124-111 on Monday night after completing a trade for Irving. […]
24 hours ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hu...
Associated Press

Mahomes, Hurts aware of significance of this Super Bowl duel

PHOENIX (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is thrilled young aspiring football players all over the world will get to watch two Black quarterbacks face each other for the first time in the Super Bowl. He’s also pleased they get to watch two really, really good quarterbacks. “I’m really excited for both quarterbacks, what […]
24 hours ago
College baseball intent on increasing Black players, coaches