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List of Black Head Football Coaches at NCAA Division I (FBS) Schools

Willie E. Jeffries picture at Wichita State, Featured image of the List of Black head football coaches at NCAA Division I (FBS) Schools presented by Sports Highlights USA.

In 1979, Willie E. Jeffries became the first Black man hired as a head coach for an NCAA Division I-A football program when he took the job at Wichita State University (WSU). Jeffries served as the Shockers’ head coach for five seasons (‘79 through ’83), posting his best season in 1982, when the Shockers went 8 -3 and finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Unfortunately, Willie Jeffries’ tenure at WSU became mired in controversy when the NCAA cited him and his coaching staff for numerous rules infractions including recruitment violations.  As a result of the NCAA findings, Jeffries was terminated, and the WSU football program was placed on probation for the ’83 and ’84 seasons.

Three years after Jeffries’ firing, Wichita State University President Warren Armstrong announced the termination of the school’s football program at the end of the 1986 season.

Before his stint at WSU, Jeffries was a head coach at a historically black college/university (HBCU), South Carolina State University (’73 to ’78). After leaving Wichita State, Jeffries was hired at Howard University, where he served as their head coach from ’84 to ’88.  Jeffries returned to South Carolina State in 1989, where he stayed until he finished his head coaching career in 2001. 

Willie E. Jeffries was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. During his distinguished 29-year career as a college head football coach, he was the first African-American head football coach at an NCAA Division IA program and won three Black College Football National Championships at South Carolina State (’76, ’77, and ’94). 

The Sports Highlights USA list of Black Head Football Coaches at NCAA Division I-A Schools is dedicated to Willie E Jeffries, all the Black pioneers who came before him, and all those who dare to lead the way into the future.

Black Head Football Coaching Changes for 2023-2024

NCAA FBS Black Head Coach Hires (2023-2024)


  • Derek Mason became the head coach at Middle Tennessee State on December 6th, 2023. This is Mason’s second opportunity to lead an FBS program after he served as the head coach for Vanderbilt University from 2014 to 2020, making him the last Black head coach to lead an SEC school. After his time at Vanderbilt, he worked as a defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2021 and Oklahoma State in 2022.
Derek Mason head football coach second chance image.
Derek Mason gets a second chance at Middle Tennessee State.
  • Fran Brown was hired as Syracuse’s new head football coach on November 28, 2023. Brown, who replaces Dino Babers, was formerly a defensive back coach at Georgia
Fran Brown, new Syracuse head coach image on the sidelines wearing headphones.
Georgia Bulldogs DB Coach Fran Brown replaces Dino Babers at Syracuse.
  • Sherrone Moore takes over head coaching duties at Michigan on January 26, 2024. The former OC and OL coach served as acting head coach for several games during the 2023 season due to Coach Harbaugh’s suspensions for NCAA rule violations. Jim Harbaugh has returned to the NFL as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Ironically, Moore becomes the first-ever Black head coach of a reigning NCAA Divison 1A football champion. Yet still, the NCAA has never had a Black head coach lead a team to a Division 1A (FBS) championship from the start of the season to the end. How much longer will it be before a Black head coach accomplishes this feat and becomes the NCAA’s first Division 1A football champion?

    For sure, Moore has a hell of a head start. But will he be the one?

Sherrone Moore, image of new Michigan head football coach standing on sidelines barking instructions to his team.
Sherrone Moore becomes the first Black head coach of a reigning NCAA Division 1A Football team.
  • On February 12, 2024, DeShaun Foster was hired as UCLA’s new head football coach, replacing Chip Kelly, who resigned to take the Ohio State offensive coordinator position. Foster previously served as UCLA’s running back coach.
DeShaun Foster: UCLA's new head football coach image.
DeShaun Foster takes the helm at UCLA.


NCAA FBS Black Head Coaching Firings, Moves, and Retirements (2023-2024)

  • Mel Tucker was fired for “cause” on September 27, 2023, by Michigan State due to circumstances surrounding a sexual harassment allegation.
  • Dino Babers was fired at Syracuse on November 19, 2023.
  • Maurice Linguist resigned as head coach at Buffalo on January 16 to join Kalen DeBoer’s staff at Alabama.

As of March 27, 2024, only 16 out of 134 NCAA FBS head coaches are Black. This represents 11.94% of all available head coach positions.

Studies from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), which serves as a comprehensive resource for issues related to gender and race in amateur, collegiate, and professional sports, show that approximately 54.3% of the student-athletes on NCAA FBS teams are African American (as of 2018). The latest interim U.S. Census data from 2015 estimates that Blacks represent 13.3% of America’s population. But you’re telling me that the representation of Black head coaches in the FBS can’t even match — let alone exceed — the U.S. Black population figures?

These figures are even more disturbing considering that the majority of NCAA FBS players are African American—and it has been so for nearly three decades.

For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, check out ESPN’s Ivan Maisel’s article  The lack of Black college football coaches is still glaring, and so are the excuses behind it,”  

NFL Black Head Coaches News

As of January 28, 2023, 7 out of 32 NFL head coaches are Black, which represents 21.9% of the league. According to 2022 NFL participation by race figures gathered by Statista, over 56% of its players identify as black, and only 24.9% identify as white. Another rather perplexing figure presented by Statista is that less than half of 1% of NFL players self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Kudos to the NFL owners who so far have hired three more Black head coaches in 2024. Progress! 

  1. Mike Tomlin at Pittsburgh 
  2. Todd Bowles at Tampa Bay
  3. DeMeco Ryans at Houston
  4. Mike McDaniel at Miami
  5. Raheem Morris at Atlanta
  6. Antonio Pierce at Las Vegas
  7. Jerod Mayo at New England

Last updated on March 27, 2024

List of Black Head Coaches at NCAA FBS (formerly Division IA) Schools

1.James FranklinPenn StateBig Ten
2.Mike LocksleyMarylandBig Ten
3.Thomas HammockNorthern IllinoisMAC
4.Jay NorvellColorado StateMountain West
5.Charles HuffMarshallUSA
6.Stan DraytonTempleAmerican
7.Tony ElliotVirginiaACC
8.Marcus FreemanNotre DameIndependent
9.Deion SandersColoradoPac-12
10.Lance TaylorWestern MichiganMAC
11.Ryan WaltersPurdueBig Ten
12.Kenni BurnsKent StateMAC
13.Fran BrownSyracuseACC
14.Derek MasonMiddle Tennessee StateUSA
15.Sherrone MooreMichiganBig Ten
16.DeShaun FosterUCLABig Ten
Current running list of Black head coaches at NCAA FBS (formerly Division IA) colleges and universities, presented by Sports USA.

Related Links:

2023-2024 NCAA FBS Head Coaching Changes

2022-2023 NCAA Football Recruiting Calendars

Odds of Receiving a College Football Full Scholarship

How to Manage the College Football Recruiting Process


  1. Raymond
    October 13, 2022 @ 1:12 pm

    How did you find this info? Did you go through all 131 (D1) schools on wikipedia? Thanks!


  2. Mike
    October 9, 2022 @ 3:27 am

    It’s always amazing how Whites in comments want to find angles on Blacks who fail, yet won’t bring statistics of comparative White Counterparts. You wanna speak on now? Brian Harskin is barely hanging on at Auburn. Brent Venables at Oklahoma ain’t helping his cause. Chip Kelley after four years just got UCLA back to respectability. What White coaches secure in the SEC outside of 5 to 6 schools not UGA or Bama? What about the Big 12 or AAC and ACC. You’ll see 30 firings at seasons end and rest assure only ten percent will be AA coaches. The nature of the business is a beast. Stop being racist and claiming we BLACK FOLK blame other things. We’ve fought hard to get what you take for granted. That alone isn’t equality.


    • Nkosi Narmer
      October 9, 2022 @ 11:16 am

      Thanks, Mike. I agree.

      The system of white supremacy in the United States barricaded African Americans from becoming head coaches at any major college until 1979. Until the 1950s, Black student-athletes weren’t allowed to compete at many major colleges in the northern states. Moreover, it wasn’t until 1967 that the first African American was allowed to play in an SEC football game. That’s because the under-the-table “Gentlemen’s Agreement” among colleges forbade all-white teams from competing against teams with Black players on the roster for decades.

      Yes, we have made much progress: however, make no mistake—the system of white supremacy in America is still alive and kicking. You can see its vestiges along the sidelines and in the skyboxes at almost every college and pro football game.

      The following is an online link to an excellent article about many of the first black players at major colleges and the racial barriers they had to overcome: The First Black Players at Major Colleges


  3. Beau
    September 21, 2022 @ 11:56 pm

    Successful coaches, for example James Franklin (currently at Penn State, career Record: 12 Years, 94-49, .657 Win% at major schools) don’t use color as a crutch. It means nothing on the field. What matters are wins and losses.

    Unfortunately, most of the coaches above have records closer to those of Marcus Freeman (currently at Notre Dame, career Record: 2 Years, 1-3, .250 Win% at major schools) or Mike Lockley (currently at Maryland, career Record: 8 Years, 18-49, .269 Win% at major schools) than Franklin.

    Instead, just like Brian Flores in the NFL, or for that matter Black people everywhere, they always blame their shortcomings on someone else.

    Playing football and coaching football are dramatically different tasks. One need not have played football or even played very well, or even have the skill to do so, to be a great coach. In fact, the world is full of them.

    Examples of people that didn’t have great football skills but are great coaches: Nick Saban, Brian Kelly, Jimbo Fisher, James Franklin, Hugh Freeze, George O’Leary, David Cutcliffe, Dan Mullen, Sonny Dikes, Mike Leach.

    Examples of people that played football but don’t have what it takes to coach: pretty much anyone that played football, especially in the NFL, but isn’t coaching on retirement.

    So, if you want to make your argument, post your list of Black D1/FBS coaches and their winning percentages. Let’s see whether that average is over 50% or not at major schools.


    • Nkosi Narmer
      September 22, 2022 @ 12:32 pm

      Beau, Thanks for the comment. I’ve posted this running list of Black division 1 coaches since 2014 because I champion giving Black coaches the same opportunity to fail that white coaches receive–over and over again. And I should know because I also post a yearly list of all NCAA FBS hires and fires.

      It’s truly unfortunate that college administrators still prefer– overwhelming–to give white coaches these opportunities. Furthermore, the fact remains that most division 1 hires fail. So when you want me to list winning percentages of Black NCAA FBS coaches, let’s also compare them to all the White FBS coaches who fail instead of you only listing the comparatively few successful ones.

      I’ll give you this, there are and will continue to be many more Black coaches who fail than succeed. Like there are a lot more White coaches who fail than achieve. That’s simply the nature of the profession


    • Jay
      May 8, 2023 @ 3:49 pm

      I feel your argument. But let’s be completely transparent on this topic. How often does a black coach get a chance to get to the big schools? If he does get the job he’s given a short leash. Anyone that knows football knows it takes about 3-5 years for a head coach to get the team where he wants them to be. He has to get rid of some players that he feels doesn’t fit his criteria. He then has to recruit the type of players he wants to for his scheme and concepts. It doesn’t matter if he’s black or white, this is the time he needs. It’s impossible sometimes to turn things around in a year or two. Team hasn’t had a winning record in 10 years and now you hire me and want me to be the Messiah and raise your program from the ashes. And if I don’t do so in 2 years you wanna let me go


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