The Disappearance of Black Coaches in the ACCPosted by KCarpenter on October 13th, 2011
Just a few years ago, seven out of the twelve head coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference were African-American. Today, it has one: Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. Where the ACC was once a progressive leader, it is now at the rear of the pack. Now while many may find the race of coaches in college basketball an unimportant or trivial issue, the drastic change in percentages is worth examining, particularly if there is a single driving force behind the change. Where have all the black coaches gone?
Let’s check in on the seven black head coaches in the ACC in 2008 and see where they are now: Leonard Hamilton is still at Florida State where he leads a defensive powerhouse that can reliably challenge the very best in the ACC. Hamilton stands alone, though. Frank Haith, who was the head coach of Miami, accepted a new job at Missouri, where he will get to play spoiler and rival to elite Kansas. The great rebuilding artist, Oliver Purnell,was offered a Godfather-style contract from DePaul. Offered a ridiculous sum of money that he couldn’t possibly refuse, Purnell left Clemson. A failure to meet increased expectations at Georgia Tech led to the firing of Paul Hewitt. Of course, plenty of schools were happy to take a chance on Paul Hewitt and it was less than two months before Hewitt was named the head coach of the perennial Cinderella, George Mason. Dave Leitao at Virginia and Sidney Lowe at North Carolina State were fired/bought out for repeated failures in the conference. While Lowe landed on his feet as an assistant coach for the NBA’s Utah Jazz, it took Leitao a little longer before he finally landed the gig as the head coach of the Maine Red Claws, an NBA Development League team. Al Skinner, longtime coach at Boston College, was fired after a disappointing 2010 season, despite being the winningest coach in the program’s history and leading the Eagles to seven NCAA Tournament appearances including the Sweet Sixteen once. Skinner isn’t currently coaching anywhere.
So here’s the recap: Leonard Hamilton remains at Florida State. Frank Haith and Oliver Purnell were effectively promoted while Paul Hewitt was effectively demoted, although to an admittedly excellent program at George Mason. Dave Leitao, Sidney Lowe, and Al Skinner are all out of college basketball. So ignoring Paul Hewitt for now, we have three positive outcomes and three negative outcomes. There doesn’t appear to be a systematic reason for the exodus of black coaches from the ACC. By and large, it looks like black coaches have succeeded and failed in equal measure in the ACC and I don’t think I could attribute the disappearance of these coaches from the ACC to any specific thing.
That said, I find an anonymous coach’s explanation in Jeff Goodman’s piece pretty hilarious:
“It’s all about trends. Right now, everyone is out there trying to find the Brad Stevens lookalike. Back in 2005, Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt was coming off a national title game appearance.”
That’s a cute idea, but do any of the new hires in the ACC bear any similarity to Brad Stevens? Okay, maybe Steve Donahue if you are willing to really stretch it, but does that description fit any of the other new hires? Didn’t NC State really want to hire Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart? It’s a provocative quote from an anonymous source, but it’s hard to see any true connection to reality.