A 10-Season Snapshot of NCAA Power Five Head Coaching Hires
What can we say about hiring of head Coaches of Color by NCAA member institutions?
The Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University, with the help of the Paul Robeson Center at the University of Central Florida, sought to answer this question regarding coaching hires in Power Five Division I football.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Percentage of New-Hire NCAA Power Five Head Coaches – 2009-10 vs. 2018-19
A glance at the total number of newly–hired Coaches of Color year-by-year shows variability. However, within that variability, the biggest increases are in the number of White head coaches hired. This figure shows the total number of White, Black, and Latino coaches hired each season.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Total Number of New-Hire Head Coaches
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Coaching Position Immediately Before Being Hired as Head Coach 2009-10 through 2018-19
Over the 10-season window, only three Latino head coaches were hired. Given this small sample size, we examined trends for Coaches of Color by combining Latino and Black head coaches for the remaining analyses. The majority of all college head coaches in this sample came from other college head coaching positions. However, a higher percentage of Coaches of Color came from coaching positions in the NFL compared to White head coaches. This figure shows percentages of newly-hired head coaches coming from each prior coaching position across all 10 seasons.
Note: Coaches of color include Black and Latino head coaches; NFL = National Football League; all positions are college coaching positions unless designated as NFL positions; DC = defensive coordinator; HC = head coach; OC = offensive coordinator; Position = position coach; N/A = held a non-coaching position immediately prior to hire.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Playing Experience of New-Hire Head Coaches 2009-10 through 2018-19
The majority of all Power Five head coaches played at the college level regardless of race. A higher proportion of Coaches of Color played in the NFL compared to their White counterparts. All head Coaches of Color played at the high school level or above. However, only White head coaches obtained head coaching positions in the Power Five with no record of football playing experience at any level. This figure shows the playing experience of newly-hired head coaches across the 10 seasons.
Note: Coaches of color include Black and Latino head coaches; NFL = National Football League; Other League = professional league other than the NFL; None = no playing experience or no playing experience above youth league; Percentages have been rounded and may not equal 100.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of NCAA Power Five New-Hire Head Coaches by Hiring Age – 2009-10 through 2018-19
Head Coaches of Color and White head coaches in this time period were hired at about the same average age. The minimum age is slightly higher for Coaches of Color, and the maximum age of hire is slightly lower. This table shows the average ages and ranges for newly-hired head Coaches of Color and White head coaches.
New-Hire Head Coaches’ Ages and Age Ranges at Time of Hire
|Minimum Age||Maximum Age||Mean Age||Standard Deviation|
|White Head Coaches||33||67||46.2||7.0|
|Head Coaches of Color||38||63||47.0||5.8|
Historical Record of Diversity in Head Coach Hiring by NCAA Power Five Teams
Among the 65 NCAA Power Five teams included in these analyses, there are a number of teams that have never hired any head Coaches of Color, even beyond the 10-season window included in this study. This figure shows percentages of teams that have never hired head Coaches of Color compared to those that have.
While the number of head Coaches of Color hired across the Power Five schools is low overall, diversity in hiring is not consistent across conferences. The SEC has hired the lowest proportion of head Coaches of Color. Big 12 schools have hired the highest percentage of head Coaches of Color. The figure below details diversity in head coach hiring by conference historically, beyond the 10-season window.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Next Positions for Outgoing NCAA Power Five Head Coaches – 2009-10 through 2018-19
A higher percentage of Power Five White head coaches were hired into the NFL compared to Coaches of Color. Indeed, 6.2% of White coaches went directly to NFL head coaching positions, but no Coaches of Color did so. When Coaches of Color moved directly into NFL coaching, the move was made as a position coach, but White coaches moved into multiple NFL coaching positions, including offensive coordinator, a frequent pathway to NFL head coaching. This figure shows coaching positions obtained by White head coaches immediately after leaving their current positions.
Next Coaching Position for White Head Coaches
The next figure below represents next coaching positions for outgoing head Coaches of Color. The scope of our current analysis was limited to the immediate subsequent coaching positions obtained after the coach left a Power Five head coaching position.
Next Coaching Position for Coaches of Color
NCAA Outgoing Head Coaches Number of Years with the Team 2009-10 through 2018-19
The maximum number of years White coaches served as head coaches on a given team was more than seven times longer than the tenure of Coaches of Color. The maximum number of years a Coach of Color held a head coaching position during this timeframe was six years. More than one third (35.1%) of White coaches exceeded that six-year mark, holding head coaching positions for seven or more years. This table provides the mean and range of coaching tenures for outgoing head coaches.
|Total Number of Coaches||Minimum||Maximum||Mean||Standard Deviation|
|White Head Coaches||97||1||46||6.8||6.49|
|Head Coaches of Color||14||1||6||3.43||1.70|
Note: Minimum, maximum, and mean are in years.
Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Win-Loss Percentages
When we look at winning proportions for White coaches and Coaches of Color, the numbers are similar. This table details the mean proportion of games won for White head coaches compared to head Coaches of Color during their tenure with the team.
|Total Number of Coaches||Mean Win Proportion||Standard Deviation|
|White Head Coaches||97||.54||.16|
|Head Coaches of Color||14||.46||.17|
Note: Mean Win Proportion = mean winning proportion during coaching tenures.
Tom Fears (New Orleans Saints) was the first Latino American head coach in the NFL (1967), and Joe Kapp was the first Latino American NCAA Division 1-A coach at a predominantly White program (1982, University of California-Berkeley). Tom Flores (Oakland Raiders) was the first Latino and Coach of Color in the NFL’s modern era (after the 1970 NFL-AFL merger). Art Shell (Los Angeles Raiders) became the first Black head coach in the modern era (1989), and Willie Jeffries was the first Black NCAA Division 1-A coach at a predominantly White program (1979, Wichita State).
We sought to explore head coach hiring patterns over the past 10 seasons in the Power Five conferences: Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12, Pac- 12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC). Rather than exploring the question in the snapshot of a single year, we examined this issue with an in-depth approach. We analyzed who was hired and fired and looked for patterns from the 2009- 10 NCAA football season through the 2018-19 season.
There were multiple phases of research. The first was data collection done by the Paul Robeson Research Center for Innovative Academic & Athletic Prowess (PRRC). This data collection phase was followed by an analysis of the PRRC data, as well as a secondary data collection, both conducted by the Global Sport Institute. The final step was an analysis by the Global Sport Institute that considered both data collections.
PRRC, under the direction of Dr. C. Keith Harrison, compiled data from all head coach changes within the NCAA Power Five Conferences from the 2009-10 through the 2018- 19 seasons. Teams were included in these analyses if they were in a Power Five conference at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, even if they were not a Power Five team for the entire 10-season timeframe. In total, 65 schools were included in the data set. Notre Dame football, which competed outside a conference, was included, as they contractually play four to six games per year against ACC opponents. And, Notre Dame is a member of the ACC for most other sports.Data include information on the race/ethnicity of both hired and fired coaches, the prior coaching position of each, their win/loss records, and the next coaching position (in the case of the coach leaving the position).
The Global Sport Institute added age, highest playing experience, coaching tenure, and basic descriptive statistics, and conducted analyses of all data. Two separate researchers verified data using publicly-available sources. Discrepancies were reconciled by the two researchers by accessing multiple sources, with the preponderance of information determining correct information.
Over the 10-season window included in our analyses there were 111 coaching changes. The first table below provides the total number and percent of outgoing head coaches, and the second table provides the total number and percent of newly-hired head coaches in our analyses, each broken down by race.
Total Number and Percent of Outgoing Head Coaches 2009-10 through 2018-19 by Race
Total Number and Percent of Newly-Hired Head Coaches 2009-10 through 2018-19 by Race