The League: SEC tops for minority coaches


Missouri coach Frank Haith, whose Tigers are in their first year in the Southeastern Conference, was named The AP's College Basketball Coach of the Year last season. (The Associated Press)

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 10:14 p.m.

The Southeastern Conference has made steady strides in coaching diversity over the course of the last 11 years.

Facts

Schedule

SATURDAY
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 1:30 p.m.
Alabama at LSU (WOGX, Cox Ch. 13; WJXT, Cox Ch. 19), 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina at Georgia (CBS), 2 p.m.
Tennessee at Texas A&M (WOGX, WJXT), 4 p.m.
Auburn at Ole Miss, 5 p.m.
Arkansas at Florida (ESPNU), 7 p.m.
Missouri at Kentucky (ESPN), 9 p.m.
TUESDAY
Auburn at Alabama (ESPNU), 7 p.m.
UF at Tennessee (ESPN), 9 p.m.
WEDNESDAY
Arkansas at LSU, 8 p.m.
Mississippi St. at Kentucky, 8 p.m.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (CST, Cox Ch. 259), 9 p.m.
Georgia at Vanderbilt (Sun Sports), 9 p.m.
THURSDAY
Missouri at South Carolina, 9 p.m.

Sylvester Croom was hired as the league's first African-American football coach in 2004, spending five seasons at Mississippi State. Last season, there were three minority head football coaches patrolling SEC sidelines. One, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, earned SEC coach of the year honors.

In basketball, the SEC is even more diverse. Of the league's 14 men's basketball coaches, more than half (8) are minorities. There are seven African-American coaches and one Hispanic coach. First-year South Carolina coach Frank Martin, a Miami native, is Cuban-American.

“It's awesome that this league believes in everybody, not just in certain stereotypes or whatever it may be,” Martin said. “I think it's phenomenal.”

Of the six BCS conferences, the SEC (57.1 percent minority) is the most diverse, followed by the Big East (4-15, 26.6 percent), Pac-12 (3-12, 25 percent), Big 12 (2-10, 20 percent), ACC (2-12 16.6 percent) and Big Ten (1-12, 8.3 percent).

“First and foremost, it speaks to our league, the SEC,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “I think you look at guys are making hires for guys they think are the best qualified to do the job.”

Grant, one of the SEC's seven African-American coaches, spent 12 years as an assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Marshall and Florida before getting his first head coaching job at VCU in 2007. Alabama hired Grant two years later in 2009.

Grant credited Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and Tubby Smith at Kentucky as examples of minority coaches in the SEC who showed they could win national titles with the right support. Richardson led Arkansas to a national title in 1994, while Smith led Kentucky to the 1998 national championship.

“Those guys are really the guys that paved the way for guys like myself and some of the other coaches across the league,” Grant said. “Certainly, I'm privileged to be in the position I'm in, and I appreciate the opportunity I've been given. Now, it's just up to us to go out and produce successful programs.”

Missouri coach Frank Haith got his first opportunity at Miami in 2004, leading the Hurricanes to an NCAA Tournament and five postseason appearances. In 2011, Haith was hired as Missouri's third African-American men's basketball coach in school history. Last season, Haith led Missouri to a 30-5 record and earned Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year honors.

“It's been tremendous progress that has been made,” Haith said. “I know at one point in time, in the ACC, we had seven African-American coaches. We've done a good job with that. And particularly in the SEC, predominantly most teams in the South, I think it just says a lot about how it's been a positive in terms of us having opportunities.”

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