CASLEE SIMS | Staff Writer

Only 8.7 percent of all Division-I college basketball head coaches are African-American, according to the 2013 Racial and Gender Report Card: College Sport.

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In 1966, John McLendon became the first African-American to coach at a Predominantly White Institution, PWI. In 1970, North Carolina native Will Robinson became the first African-American head coach in Division I Men’s Basketball.

The sport has received much scrutiny after hitting all-time lows in having a person of color as a head coach in Divisions II and III, as well.

Questions to ask are:

Were these teams racially bias towards hiring a person not of color? Were potential African-American coaches simply not as qualified? Would it have affected recruiting and other things relevant to the success of the team if an African-American were hired? All of these are relevant questions when asking why the ratio is such a minute figure.

African-American players are the majority of players recruited by these coaches, why can’t African-American coaches be recruited or brought in for interviews in a similar manner?

There are not any clear answers and this issue has many layers.

The NFL adopted the Rooney Rule that requires head coach seeking teams and other authoritative positions to interview minorities for those said positions. The absence of a similar rule in college sports as a whole raises another question. Are teams even interviewing minorities?

The N.C. State Men’s Basketball team since its inception in 1911, has had one lone person of color as head coach. Sidney Lowe, a former player on the 1983 NCAA Championship team.

Lowe was hired in 2006, the same year as the 50th anniversary that black students were allowed to attend the university.

The Lowe era started off wonderfully; he and the Wolfpack defeated the third-ranked Tar Heels in 2007, the highest ranked team a first-year head coach had defeated.

Things only got worse, though, and after his resignation in 2011 he had compiled an 86-78 record, including a 25-55 record in ACC play.

If you dig deeper into the process the Wolfpack took to hire its 18th head coach in 2006, it sought after contemporaries such as current University of Texas head coach Rick Barnes and University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, both of whom rejected the offer.

What if Lowe hadn’t had deep ties to the university? He had been one of the only black alums with extended coaching experience. It just is not common for African-American coaches to secure jobs at Power Five conference schools.

Maybe it’s the interview process that plagues African-American coaches although they may be qualified for the job.

According to a recent ESPN article, most African-American applicants hold back during the interview process; they don’t want to say the wrong things; they don’t want to seem “militant”, as African-Americans are stereotypically labeled in nature.

No athletic director or anyone else on the pseudo-panel for hiring will come out and admit that “labels” are what affect the hiring or lack thereof of black coaches. They will not admit that race is a factor in this, though it seems that way. I’m pretty sure there are very capable and qualified African-American coaches out there that can succeed in the most prestigious programs in the country.

But . . .

Two issues are often brought to the table when discussing this topic. The first is the popularity of professional search firms, which often help big-name universities pinpoint talented coaches. The other is the rising stigma that surrounds coaches who are trying to climb into the college game out of Amateur Athletic Union basketball or the high school ranks, as noted by a recent NY Times article.

Surely, there is a lot of Division I men’s basketball teams and there are a significant number of black coaches at the helm. But that number is steadily declining.

The statistics presented earlier that stated that 23 percent of Division I coaches represent a number near an all-time high (25 percent is the highest). While it is a significant step forward in closing the racial gap in collegiate coaching, there are still major concerns.

When 25 head coaching jobs became available after the 2014 College Basketball season, 13 were black and were the subject of a firing or resignation. According to those same statistics we could be looking at a loss of 15 black coaches in college basketball.

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There used to be a Black Coaches Association until the head of it, Floyd Keith left recently. The Black Coaches Association served as the sentinel for the black coach and now that it doesn’t really exist anymore, black coaches are looking for a voice to further advocate another reason to hire them, especially at top programs.

This past season, at the mecca of college basketball, the Final Four, there was one black coach, Kevin Ollie, who led his Connecticut Huskies squad to a National Championship. Small wins right?

Ollie’s feat leaves room for optimism.