Black head coaches in FBS drop slightly heading into 2023

Dec 20, 2022, 7:44 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 9:49 am
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, left, and his son quarterback Shedeur Sanders sing the scho...

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, left, and his son quarterback Shedeur Sanders sing the school's alma mater after the Celebration Bowl NCAA college football game nst North Carolina Central, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr. )

(AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr. )

              Purdue football head coach Ryan Walters speaks during a news conference introducing him as the new head coach, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, at the Kozuch Football Performance Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin/Journal & Courier via AP)
            
              Minnesota running backs coach Kenni Burns, now associate head coach, watches the team during the first half of an NCAA football game against the Bowling Green Falcons on Sept. 25, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. Kent State has agreed to hire Burns to replace Sean Lewis, who left after five seasons, a person familiar with the deal confirmed to The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, because the schools had not announced the move. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders talks with safety Shilo Sanders (21) during the first half against the North Carolina Central in the Celebration Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Atlanta.(Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, left, and quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) point to the band after their overtime loss to North Carolina Central in the Celebration Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Atlanta.(Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
            
              Minnesota running backs coach Kenni Burns, now associate head coach, watches his team in the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game against the Colorado Buffaloes on Sept. 18, 2021, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Co. Kent State has agreed to hire Burns to replace Sean Lewis, who left after five seasons, a person familiar with the deal confirmed to The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, because the schools had not announced the move. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)
            
              Illinois defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters looks on before an NCAA college football game against Northwestern on Nov. 26, 2022 in Evanston, Ill. Purdue announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022,  they had hired Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters as their head coach less than a week after Brohm left for his alma mater, Louisville. (Anthony Zilis/The News-Gazette via AP)
            
              Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, left, and his son quarterback Shedeur Sanders sing the school's alma mater after the Celebration Bowl NCAA college football game nst North Carolina Central, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr. )
            
              Purdue football head coach Ryan Walters speaks during a press conference introducing him as the new head coach, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, at the Kozuch Football Performance Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. (Alex Martin /Journal & Courier via AP)

Deion Sanders was the star attraction in this year’s class of new Black coaches taking over major college programs.

Of course, he didn’t have a lot of competition.

Sanders, who left Jackson State for Colorado of the Pac-12 Conference, was one of just three Black head coaches hired by Football Bowl Subdivision schools in the recently completed cycle for the 2023-24 season.

Barring any additional changes, there will be 14 Black coaches at 133 FBS teams next season — roughly 10.5% of overall coaches and a drop from 15 at the start of this season, even as the FBS division adds two new schools in 2023.

The lack of diversity remains striking in a sport where more than half the players identify as Black.

Sanders was joined by two other Black head coaching hires. Purdue picked Ryan Walters, the defensive coordinator at fellow Big Ten school Illinois, to replace Jeff Brohm. And Kent State went with Minnesota assistant coach Kenni Burns to lead its program after Sean Lewis left to become Sanders’ offensive coordinator at Colorado.

Also, Zach Arnett appears to be the first Latino to lead a Southeastern Conference program, promoted from defensive coordinator at Mississippi State after the death of Mike Leach. And Lance Taylor, who is of Choctaw heritage, landed the top job at Western Michigan after serving as Louisville’s offensive coordinator.

The remaining 19 openings — including Georgia Tech sticking with interim coach Brent Key for the full-time job — were claimed by white candidates.

Sanders posted a 27-6 record and created plenty of headlines during his three years at Jackson State, a historically Black university in Mississippi. Now, “Coach Prime” will take over a Colorado program coming off a dismal 1-11 season. He said part of the reason he accepted the job at a school where wins have been scarce was to open doors for more Black coaches.

“It’s about an opportunity,” Sanders said.

The Big Ten has the most diverse lineup among Power Five leagues with four Black coaches among 14 member schools — Walters, Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Penn State’s James Franklin and Maryland’s Mike Locksley.

The 14-team Atlantic Coast Conference remains at two Black coaches with Syracuse’s Dino Babers and Virginia’s Tony Elliott. The only other Black coaches at Power Five schools are Sanders and Marcus Freeman at independent Notre Dame.

The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12, both set to have 14 teams in 2023, have no Black coaches.

The numbers are even punier in the Group of Five leagues: The Mid-American Conference, located largely in the same Midwest region as the Big Ten, has three Black coaches at its 12 schools: Burns, Thomas Hammock at Northern Illinois and Maurice Linguist at Buffalo.

Three other conferences have one Black coach each: Jay Norvell at Colorado State (Mountain West), Stan Drayton at Temple (American) and Charles Huff at Marshall (Sun Belt).

There are no Black coaches in Conference USA or the handful of other schools without a league affiliation.

The lack of diversity in the FBS ranks led Locksley to form the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches two years ago. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he said he’s not discouraged by numbers that show little progress and insisted that more schools are reaching out to his organization in the search for candidates of color, which he expects to eventually pay dividends.

Locksley said he doesn’t favor offering incentives — such as extra scholarships or bigger bowl payouts — to schools that hire minority coaches.

“That, to me, is kind of working backward,” he said. “The only reason you’re doing it is to gain a reward, whereas it should be in the fabric of the hiring process. We want to make it an even playing field, where these schools are hiring the right guys for the right reasons.”

Sylvester Croom, who in 2004 became the SEC’s first Black head football coach when he took over at Mississippi State, decried the lack of progress. There have been only four other Black head coaches in the SEC since Croom led the way, a glaring lack in a region with a large population of minority groups.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has called out his own members for not having a single Black coach, even though 10 schools have made coaching changes in the last three seasons (and Auburn twice).

“No, there’s definitely not enough progress,” Croom told the AP. “It’s almost 20 years now, and the fact that we still have to have these conversations is disappointing and it’s frustrating.”

There also appears to be remnants of a discriminatory system hindering progress in a region where college football rules: Segregation prevented major Southern schools from recruiting Black players until the 1960s and ’70s.

Virginia, the school where Elliott’s debut season was marred by the tragic shooting deaths of three players, is the only FBS team led by a Black coach in the southeastern U.S. and the states of Texas and Oklahoma.

___

Paul Newberry is a national sports writer for The Associated Press. Reach him at pnewberry(at)ap.org

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

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

AP

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Murray scores 41 points, Nuggets race past Hawks 128-108

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
21 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
21 hours ago
Fedor Emelianenko, rights, listens to interpreter Georgiy Litvinov during an interview in Los Angel...
Associated Press

Fedor Emelianenko loses to Bader in Russian star’s last bout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Fedor Emelianenko lost his final mixed martial arts bout Saturday night when Ryan Bader stopped him halfway through the first round with a relentless ground-and-pound finish at Bellator 290. The 46-year-old Emelianenko says he is ending a storied 23-year MMA career with this bout, and he ceremonially laid down his gloves […]
21 hours ago
Miami Heat's Dewayne Dedmon (21) looks to shoot against Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo duri...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo has triple-double; Bucks win 7th straight

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the short-handed Miami Heat 123-115 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory. Jimmy Butler scored 32 points and Tyler Herro added 24 for the Heat, who had just nine available players. Notable injured […]
21 hours ago
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots in front of Houston Rockets forward ...
Associated Press

Gilgeous-Alexander scores 42 as Thunder blow out Rockets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 42 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder blow out the Houston Rockets 153-121 on Saturday night. Oklahoma City set a Thunder record for points in a game, surpassing the 150 scored in a win over the Boston Celtics last month. Gilgeous-Alexander shot 7 for 23 in a […]
21 hours ago
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, disputes a penalty called against him during the first half ...
Associated Press

Zach LaVine scores 36 as Bulls beat Trail Blazers 129-121

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls tried all sorts of defensive coverages on Damian Lillard. He kept scoring anyway. Just not enough to hold down Zach LaVine and company. LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan had 27 and the Bulls topped Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 129-121 on Saturday night. Nikola Vucevic added 23 […]
21 hours ago
Black head coaches in FBS drop slightly heading into 2023