Black Men Can't Coach? ASU Troubles Continue; More Sport Cuts

We've written in this space many times about the NFL's embarrassing hiring practices and the paucity of black head coaches in a league where two-thirds of the players are black.

The situation is a little better in basketball, with a mixed bag of diversity and results that readers may find instructive.


In the NBA, for example, there are 14 black head coaches among the 30 teams, including Phoenix's Monty Williams, who in all likelihood will be this season's Coach of the Year.


In the recently concluded NCAA Basketball Tournament, the two biggest surprise teams were both coached by black men—St. Peter’s Shaheen Holloway and North Carolina’s Hubert Davis (below).


St. Peter’s, the tiny New Jersey school with 2300 students, upset No. 2 Kentucky, No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue to become the first No. 15 seed ever to reach the Elite Eight.


Their dream was ended by Davis’ No. 9 seeded Tar Heels, who advanced all the way to the championship game against Kansas.


After the tourney, Holloway accepted the head coaching position at his alma mater, Seton Hall. Then, Villanova hired Fordham head coach and former Villanova assistant Kyle Neptune to replace the retiring Jay Wright, giving the Big East seven black coaches among its 11 programs.


Meanwhile, the Pac-12, known nationally for its progressiveness and diversity, has a pathetic record in men’s basketball, with an all-white cast of head coaches. Twelve teams, 12 white men.


(For the record, the Big East sent six teams to the NCAA Championship, the Pac-12 sent three).


Sun Devil Struggles: We noted a few weeks ago that Arizona State, under head coach Herm Edwards (one of the Pac-12's three black head coaches), was in the midst of an NCAA investigation that so far has resulted in the firing or forced resignation of five assistant coaches.


Things have continued to deteriorate. Star quarterback Jayden Daniels has transferred to LSU and, at the conclusion of spring practice, two of the Sun Devils’ two best players—wide receiver Ricky Pearsall and linebacker Eric Gentry—entered the transfer portal.


One must wonder why Edwards still has a job. Perhaps because Athletic Director Ray Anderson, the former Stanford punt returner and NFL executive, is unwilling to admit that his “CEO-style program” modeled after NFL team structures, has failed.


How to Destroy a Franchise: 1) trade all your best and most popular players; 2) raise ticket prices; 3) fail to repair and improve a dilapidated ballpark; and 4) constantly threaten to move the franchise to another city.


The Oakland A's have done a masterful job of driving away what once was an enthusiastic, loyal fan base. They were in first place last Wednesday and drew 2,703 fans for a game with Baltimore.


All owner John Fisher and his minions seem to care about is holding down costs (the A’s have the lowest payroll in the league) and profiting off revenue sharing.


The best thing Fisher could do at this point would be to sell the team to someone who is interested in building a franchise, nurturing fan loyalty, and winning.


What he’s done in Oakland is a disgrace.


Gymnastics Cuts: Congrats to Stanford for winning its third straight NCAA men’s gymnastics championship last week.


The victory was diminished somewhat by the fact that so few schools now compete in the sport. Back in the 1960s, more than 200 colleges had men’s gymnastics teams. Three years ago, after Iowa and Minnesota dropped the sport, the number had dwindled to 13. That’s not a misprint.


This year Division III schools Simpson (Iowa) and Greenville (Illinois) brought the number up to 15, as NCAA men’s gymnastics teams aren’t separated by divisions.


The gymnastics attrition is an example of what’s going on nationally in the so-called “non-revenue” sports. With more and more schools funneling all their resources into football and men’s basketball, NCAA schools reportedly cut 289 teams nationwide in 2020. The total of swimming and diving programs has dropped to 131. Men’s tennis has lost 40 teams and wrestling has lost 13.


Disturbing trends, to be sure.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com