When new football Defensive Coordinator Bruce Tall walks the sidelines in Saturday's season opener at Columbia, he will represent a color much more important than Crimson.
Tall is the first black assistant coach on Head Coach Tim L. Murphy's staff. His hiring brings to four the total number of minorities among the more than 130 coaches of Harvard's athletic department-second to last in the lily-white Ivy League and far below the NCAA average. None of Harvard's 41 head coaches are minorities.
Even with the addition of Tall, Harvard officials admit they're unhappy with this situation. Harvard has fought hard to attract minority professors and students, producing the highest percentage of black students in the Ivies. Harvard officials say these successes have made the University's lack of minority coaches all the more glaring.
Harvard's efforts to attract more minority coaches have fallen flat, because they have uniformly failed to strike at the root at the problem: the largely white "good old boy" network of former athletes, friends and coaching colleagues through which Harvard finds and hires its coaches.
Instead, Harvard stays with standard procedure--taking out recruiting ads in magazines and seeking "contacts" with black coaches and historically minority colleges. These half-hearted efforts allowed for the creation of the situation they are now expected to remedy.
And so the result is a cycle of exclusion--a closed network of potential
Tall joins two other black coaches already onHarvard staffs, James White '95 on men'sbasketball and Walter W. Johnson III '71 on men'strack. John Wong, an Asian American, is anassistant coach of the softball team. In total,these four mean that roughly 3 percent ofHarvard's assistant coaches are minorities.
According to a study done by North-easternUniversity's Center for the Study of Sport inSociety, in NCAA Division I men's basketball, overa quarter of assistant coaches are minorities, andover a fifth of football assistants. In women'ssports, over 15 percent of NCAA assistant coachesare minorities.
Nationally, for Division I men's sportsbasketball has the highest percentage of headcoaches-nearly 12 percent. In women's sports onlyabout 7 percent of all head coaches areminorities.
Four Ivy League schools--Brown, Columbia,Dartmouth and Yale-have black head coaches, andonly Cornell has fewer minority coaches overall.
"I was aware of the situation," Johnson says."It's something Harvard has been working on forthe 16 years I've been here. I don't see anyresults. That doesn't mean that no one's trying,but I don't see any results."
And Tall, who joined football coach TimMurphy's staff last March was upset by the numberas well.
"I was surprised to find out [that the numberswere that bad]," Tall says. "Unfortunately,minorities are under-represented here."
As Harvard continues to seek a leading role inattracting minority students and star professors,Associate Vice President James S. Hoyte '65, whois black and who oversees Affirmative action atthe University, says the dearth of minorityathletic leaders becomes all the more noticeable.
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