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The members of the NCAA have had a dismal record in minority hiring. There are nearly 300 Division I schools, yet there are only two black athletic directors, three black head football coaches and 29 black head basketball coaches. Harry Edwards, the black activist and University of California sociology professor, told SI's Robert Sullivan last week, "The colleges are living off black labor in the revenue sports, football and basketball. Yet we do not get fair treatment in hiring. Black assistant coaches are basically seen as recruiters of black kids. When a head coaching job opens up, blacks are not interviewed. What the hell are we running here, a slave plantation?"
With the backing of the Black Coaches Association, Edwards met on Saturday with the NCAA's new executive director, Dick Schultz. Edwards and the coaches were prepared to lead a boycott by blacks—players and coaches—of the college football bowl games and of the Final Four basketball games unless they got certain assurances from the NCAA. They also threatened to compile a "white list" of schools that do not give jobs to blacks but continue to recruit many black athletes. Schultz, though, gave the coaches the assurances they sought—and then some.
"We would have instituted a work stoppage, but there is no further need to pursue that option," said Edwards. "The meeting went extraordinarily well. Speaking as one of the most caustic criticizers of the NCAA, I feel that under its new leadership, the NCAA is capable of turning this situation around. We went into the meeting determined to come out with something, and we came away, most importantly, with a spirit of change, something we had not expected. It turned out that Schultz is committed to change. We understand the bureaucracy he has to deal with."
Schultz issued a statement through the NCAA office, that read in part, "The meeting was positive and constructive. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing mutual concerns, particularly in regards to the newly formed NCAA Council Subcommittee to Review Minority Opportunities in Intercollegiate Athletics."
The black coaches offer two remedies, one short-term and one long-term. They would designate black assistant coaches whom they consider ready right now to fill head coach openings. And to prepare for the future, they want to establish an extensive training program to provide even more qualified minority applicants. "We're in the post-Campanis era," said Edwards. "There is a readiness to correct what has gone on before."
Before the Oct. 17 Auburn- Georgia Tech football game, WCNN-AM, the flagship radio station for Ramblin' Wreck football, was broadcasting its tailgate show from Tech's Heisman Gymnasium when suddenly the station's signal went dead. Producer Dave Cohen rushed over to the area where his transmitting equipment was supposed to have been plugged in and found an Auburn cheerleader using his socket to heat up her electric hair curlers. Says Cohen, "I asked her, 'Do you know you just unplugged 60 stations?' She just said, 'I'm sorry.' "
Cohen is not the first man undone by Auburn locks.
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