TRENTON ? Senate President and Acting Governor Richard J. Codey today called upon NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) President Myles Brand to more aggressively pursue the collegiate equivalent of the NFL?s ?Rooney Rule? to help balance the inequalities that exist in the hiring of minorities as head football coaches.
?Clearly the NCAA?s effort earlier this year to encourage colleges to hire more African American coaches was a gesture of good will that has failed. Turner Gill is proof that much more needs to be done,? said Senator Codey (D-Essex). ?I think the NCAA needs to renew their approach to the situation, perhaps studying how the collegiate basketball scene was able to overcome similar obstacles over the last 20 years.?
Sen. Codey, who has been following the situation closely, said he was disturbed by statistics that show a striking imbalance between the number of minority players and coaches in the NCAA. Among the 117 NCAA Division I-A football teams, nearly 50 percent of players are African American, while there are only three African American coaches. Sen. Codey laid out his concerns in a letter that was sent to the NCAA today, calling for a concerted approach at the grassroots level to achieve real change. A full copy of Sen. Codey?s letter is included below:
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NEW JERSEY SENATE
Mr. Myles Brand, President
The National Collegiate Athletic Association
700 W. Washington Street
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-6222
December 23, 2008
Dear Mr. Brand:
I have been following with great interest, the recent media coverage regarding the lack of minorities holding head football coaching positions in the NCAA, particularly among Division I-A schools. While I share your frustration, I think the NCAA needs to renew its commitment to finding innovative ways to tackle this problem head on.
As you are well aware, the statistics are appalling, to say the least. Out of nearly 120 Division I-A schools, there are only three African American head football coaches while nearly 50 percent of the roster is comprised of African American players.
As a longtime basketball coach and father of a former collegiate basketball player, I followed this issue closely when college basketball struggled with the same situation over the last few decades. Today, nearly 30 percent of head basketball coaches are African American, a clear indication of the success that can be achieved if given the opportunity. The same can be said for the NFL where the Rooney Rule has sparked an increase in the hiring of minorities over the last five years.
If the NCAA cannot outright impose a ?Rooney Rule? on collegiate football teams, then I believe it?s incumbent upon your administration to negotiate a stronger agreement between your members, perhaps one that offers incentives for teams that diversify their hiring practices. Simply having athletic directors agree that they ?should? consider interviewing minorities for coaching positions is ultimately no better than turning a blind eye to the situation.
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Furthermore, if the NCAA is serious about achieving real progress on this front, it should work more closely with the Black Coaches & Administrators Association to administer the type of grassroots changes that helped transform the collegiate basketball scene.
At a time when we?ve witnessed monumental change on the national front, there is no reason why some of the country?s most progressive educational institutions have not evolved to a similar level. I understand that you are likely being inundated with concerns over this situation, but I hope that you will heed my suggestions.
Richard J. Codey
Senate President & Acting Governor