Alvin A. Reid

The NFL pulled a crafty escape move when it comes to hiring more minority head coaches, assistant coaches and general managers last week.

Last spring, NFL owners rejected a proposal that would reward franchises for hiring minority coaches and major front office with additional draft picks.

Instead, the same owners last week unanimously adopted a proposal that would grant draft pick compensation to teams that develop minority coaches who are then hired by another team.

I guess this could be called “progress,” but it’s really an attempt to placate those that are rightfully calling out the NFL for its lack of front office diversity.

Beginning this offseason, a team that loses a minority assistant coach who becomes a head coach, or loses a personnel executive who becomes a general manager, will receive third-round compensatory picks in each of the next two drafts.

The problem is that this happens once in a blue moon, so it will have little real impact. Teams should be incentivized for making minority hires, not losing one of few minority coaches or GMs.

The second new concept mandates that a team that loses two minority staffers to head coach and general manager positions would receive three third-round picks. It sounds good, but this has NEVER happened in the history of the NFL.

About 75 percent of NFL players are black yet, at the season’s start, there were just three black head coaches – Brian Flores, Miami; Anthony Lynn, San Diego; Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh. Ron Rivera, who is Latino, is head coach of the Washington Football Team.

After Houston and Atlanta fired their head coaches earlier this season, Romeo Crennel and Raheem Morris are serving as respective interim head coaches.

The NFL’s record on GMs is similarly pathetic. The Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Berry and Miami Dolphins’ Chris Grier are the lone two Blacks to hold the position.

The Fritz Pollard Association, which is named for the first Black coach in NFL history, tracks minority coaching hires and qualified candidates at the NFL and collegiate levels.

Executive Director Rod Graves told USA TODAY that racism must be playing a role in NFL hiring.

“You look at the NFL and its track record and you have to wonder: How much of it is the result of racist attitudes and disregard to fairness?” he asked.

“Those types of issues have to come up when you look at the NFL’s track record.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the action - even if it creates minute change.

“I think that’s how we’ve made progress over the past several years,” Goodell said during a conference call following the owners’ vote.

“It’s continually keeping a focus on this, adapting, looking to see what areas we can improve on, and that constant evolution of improvement, to try to make sure we’re doing everything appropriate to give minorities an opportunity to advance in the head coaching ranks or the coaching ranks in general, in personnel and other football areas, to well beyond that.

That’s a lot of words that really don’t say much.

NCAA says ‘no way’

As sour as Black coaches and fans might feel about the NFL’s watered-down effort, it beats the heck out of the NCAA.

For more than a decade, the state of Oregon has had a state law requiring that “state schools interview at least one qualified minority candidate for all head coach and athletic director openings.”

In August, the West Coast Conference adopted the “Bill Russell Rule” which requires its member schools to “include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach position.”

Russell played at San Francisco University, which is now a WCC member.

The NCAA Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity (NCPCD) met last week to reportedly discuss both mandates and recommend to the NCAA that similar plans be adopted.

It didn’t vote on any action or recommend any policy changes. The committee also didn’t have the guts to provide an actual man or woman to tell the world of its decision.

In a written statement, the NCAA said it will, “continue conversations with conference commissioners” who support the rule changes after the committee opted not to move forward with a recommendation to the board of governors.

“The NCAA is a voluntary association with public and private members who are subject to different state laws,” the statement said.

“Thus, the NCAA cannot mandate the individual hiring practices of colleges and universities or campus employment practices. As a result, employment decisions are made at the individual campus level.”

Translation: “If you choose, go ahead and be racist out there when it comes to Black coaches.”

Sam Sachs, founder of The No Hate Zone and an advocate for policy changes that promote minority hiring in college athletics, called the NCAA “a white supremacy structure that’s unwilling to give up its power.”

He added that he feels he was “played” by NCAA President Mark Emmert. He had shared correspondence with Emmert and worked with him to garner support for Oregon and the Russell initiatives.

“Emmert led me down this path, told me what to do, encouraged me what to do, and it’s a complete and utter failure,” he told ESPN.

“I feel like I’ve been played. I don’t feel the NCAA really values diversity and equity. Now what?”

If it involves alleged racism, it must involve Missouri in some way, right?

Dr. Mark Lombardi, president of Maryville University and chair of the NCAA Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity (NCPCD), says his committee "wholeheartedly endorsed the Russell Rule as a best practice and sent letters to every commissioner in the NCAA advocating it."

He said the committee "will work tirelessly" to get the NCAA to adopt it.

In addition, the Great Lakes Valley Conference, of which Maryville is a member, voted unanimously to adopt it.
"Maryville, as an institution, has operated with the same hiring approach as the Russell Rule even before it was created," said Lombardi.

In September, 30 athletic directors from Division I programs signed a Collegiate Coaching Diversity Pledge. The schools said they would “have a finalist pool that includes at least one candidate from a traditionally underrepresented background and one non-diverse candidate” for vacancies in in men's basketball, women's basketball and football.

Dozens of NCAA schools have Black men’s and women’s basketball head coaches, so the real culprit here is football.

According to the NCAA’s own statistics from 2018-19 academic year, Black and other minority players comprised about 65 percent of the player pool. There were only 20 minority coaches (15.4 percent) in the FBS, which includes 129 football teams.

The NCAA created this data base in 2011-12. At that time, 83.3 percent of FBS head coaches were white. Today, that number has not decreased - it has increased to 84.6 percent.

By the way, the NCAA statement said its board of governors adopted “the Presidential Pledge” to promote better diversity and gender equity and that it continues to discuss other initiatives.

Sachs scoffed at that, saying “it is time for the NCAA to fulfill the broken promises and move their words to action to promote cultural diversity and equity.”

Winning Formula

Who gets up to watch a car race at 5 a.m.? Well, me of course.

This was no ordinary race, though.

This was Lewis Hamilton attempting to tie Michael Schumacher’s record by winning his seventh Formula 1 driver’s championship in the Turkish Grand Prix.

Mission accomplished.

Qualifying was completed Saturday in the rain and Hamilton found himself driving in the worst of a downpour. The slick track led to his qualifying sixth. Granted, Hamilton only had to finish ahead of the driver in second place in the championship chase to secure his seventh title. That was teammate Valtteri Bottas, but he obviously wanted the victory.

With skill and daring that makes him the world’s best driver. Hamilton weaved through the field to win the race and reach the coveted title.

“I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard,” he said during his postrace interview.

“Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can do together, me and this team.”

A day later, Hamilton told The Guardian, his achievements are “great” but mean nothing “unless you can help push for change.”

An unabashed supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice for people of color throughout the world, Hamilton said, “I cannot keep silent during this time.”

“I want to look back on Formula 1 in 10 years’ time and really see change because yes, we have this Black Lives Matter moment and there’s a mic and people are hearing it, but you’ve got to really do the work to activate change.”

The Reid Roundup

…The NFL announced Tuesday that, for the first time in league history, an all-Black officiating crew will work a game. It will happen for the Nov. 23 Monday Night Football game between the L.A. Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The crew will be led by referee Jerome Boger and includes umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.

A coin flip determined that the Braggin’  Rights basketball game between Illinois and Missouri will be played in Columbia, not Champaign. Meanwhile, Mizzou students, including my daughter Blaine Reid, will not return to campus after Thanksgiving and close the semester virtually because of COVID-19 concern. This hardly seems right...USA TODAY reported this week that since Ed Orgeron became LSU head coach in 2016, nine players have had allegations and complaints of sexual misconduct or violence against women. According to the report, Orgeron and LSU administrators were aware of the accusations and took no action. Orgeron said he has taken “appropriate action” in the past and will continue to do so...The NCAA will likely choose Indianapolis as its site for the entire Men’s Basketball Tournament. No word on where the Women’s Tournament would be played, of it will be played at multiple sites...ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski learned that Houston Rockets superstar James Harden turned down a two-year, $103-milion contract extension and seeks a trade to the L.A. Clippers. The proposed deal would have made Harden the NBA’s first $50 million-a-year player...If native son Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are to win the NBA Eastern Conference title, the road will go through Milwaukee. The Bucks acquired multi-talented guard Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans and  Bogdan Bogdanovic, from the Sacramento Kings in respective trades. The Bucks have made good on a promise to NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo to improve the team around him...With the NBA Draft scheduled for Wednesday night, as of Tuesday NBA.com and other outlets said a deal that could send St. Louis product Bradley Beal to the Golden State Warriors was still possible.

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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