The Snail-Like Progress of Blacks Into the Ranks of Head Coaches in College Football

The college football season is now over. The 133 football programs at large universities that are part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are typically quick to fill any coaching vacancies due to the highly competitive nature of the process and the necessity of ensuring recruits that the program is in good hands.

As a result, the coaching ranks for the 2o23 college football season are now largely in place. The good news is that three Black head coaches have been hired by FBS schools. Deion Sanders is the new head coach at the University of Colorado. The NFL Hall of Fame member was the coach at Jackson State Mississippi. Ryan Walter was named head coach at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Kenni Burns is the new head coach at Kent State University in Ohio. The other 19 head coaching vacancies where filled by White coaches.

The bad news is that the number of Black head coaches is actually one less than was the case in 2022. And this is the case in spite of the fact that there are two additional FBS schools than was the case in the 2022 season.

Thus, Blacks are 10.5 percent of all head coaches at FBS schools. There are no Black head coaches in the 14-team Southeastern Conference or the 14-team Big 12 Conference.

African Americans make up about half of all student athletes at these schools.

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  1. Enjoyed reading about the progress of Black head coaches. The problem stems from lack of opportunities to be successful by way of support. I was a head coach at the division III level for two universities. Neither university provided the support needed to be successful. My first position, without the need support and resources, we went 5-5 both years (5-4 conference). Year three was a down year and I was asked to leave.

    Second head coaching opportunity, the same issue of lack of support and resources at a program that had a losing tradition. In my time, the wins & loses did not reflect the lives saved and respect gained. Again, down year and was asked to leave.

    I still have administrators and coaches asking if I will go back to coaching. My answer is no. I have decided to pursue my doctorate and make an impact for Black male student athletes and all students that need support. Black coaches are not afforded the opportunities at strong institutions, resources and time to make an impact. Thank you for reading my comments

    Doctoral Student
    Former Head Football Coach

    • Good insight! I completely understand you’re not going back to coaching. I wish you much success; you can make an impact on these athletes with the road you’re on

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