Shaka Smart Discusses Minority Hires In College Basketball

Shaka Smart sat down with the Seth Davis Show to discuss minority hires in college basketball, and how to increase the sport’s number of minority coaches.

In 2003, the NFL sought out to address the issue of minority coaching in professional football by establishing the Rooney Rule. The regulation requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching vacancy, therefore ensuring minority coaches would be considered for high-level coaching positions.

More recently, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida has been pushing an initiative at the NCAA called the Eddie Robinson Rule, which would apply similar standards to all collegiate institutions when filling a coaching vacancy.

Numerous attempts have been made in bringing about more diversity in the coaching realm of professional and collegiate athletics. Despite these measures, the statistics surrounding minority coaching appear to be trending in an unfavorable direction.

In an interview with the Seth Davis Show, Texas Longhorns basketball and minority coach Shaka Smart explained, “I think the challenge is getting people to understand that there are highly qualified candidates out there that may be of other races that need to be looked at.

“Hiring happens at such a warp speed, so much of this stuff has to be done on the front end, and it has to be done behind closed doors because of the media.”

At face value, this issue may appear to be an easy fix. Like Smart stated, there are a plethora of qualified candidates for head coaching jobs that are minorities. Now that the issue is being publicly addressed, one might assume that owners, general managers and institutions would simply be more conscious of the matter and work to resolve it.

Unfortunately, the fix is not that simple.

“If you look up something called the Homogenous Reproduction Theory, it says people are more likely to hire people that are like them,” Smart said. “And if you apply that to a racial standpoint, now because the majority of the administrators and the majority of search firms are white, it probably puts minority candidates a little bit behind the eight ball.”

Take into consideration the fact that, in college basketball, only 23.8 percent of men’s Division I NCAA coaches are of color. College basketball players of color, on the other hand, compose 72.9 percent of all college hoops athletes, with 57.6 percent of those being African-American.

Such a discrepancy is staggering, and the Homogeneous Reproduction Theory presents a legitimate hypothesis as to why this racial norm in sports is so prominent. It’s important to note, though, that while this theory is a strong possibility, it’s still purely hypothetical.

While there may not be an official diagnosis for this problem, minority coaches like Smart will continue to offer nuanced reasons for the issue, while simultaneously striving for a resolution.

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