In 1979, Willie E. Jeffries became the first Black man hired as a head coach for a 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, finishing 2nd 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 to include 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 school’s football program at the end of the 1986 season.
Before his stint at WSU, Jeffries was a head coach at 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. His major accomplishments during his distinguished 29-year-long career as a college head football coach included being the first African-American head football coach at a NCAA Division IA program and winning 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 and to all the Black pioneers that came before him, and to all those that dare to lead the way into the future.
Black FBS Head Coach Changes for 2020-2021
On January 16, 2021, Marshall hired Alabama RB coach Charles Huff as their new head coach, making 37-year-old Huff the first African American head coach hired this season. Huff was at Alabama for two seasons as their RB coach. Previously, Huff was an associate head coach at Mississippi State in 2018. He also served as Penn State’s RB coach from 2014 to 2017. Huff is considered by many as one of the top recruiters in the country.
Other Black FBS head coach changes for 2020-2021 season
Three African American head coaches have been fired at FBS programs in 2020: Derek Mason, Vanderbilt; Lovie Smith, Illinois and Kevin Sumlin, Arizona State
There are currently only 12 Black head coaches at NCAA FBS programs, representing just 9.23% of the head coaches at the 130 member institutions. Currently, this represents the lowest percentage of black head coaches at FBS programs since I began this listing in 2012.
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,”
Last updated on January 19, 2021
List of Black Head Coaches at NCAA FBS (formerly Division IA) Schools
|2.||James Franklin||Penn State||Big Ten|
|3.||David Shaw||Stanford||Pac 12|
|4.||Willie Taggart||Florida Atlantic||USA|
|5.||Herm Edwards||Arizona State||Pac 12|
|6.||Mel Tucker||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|7.||Mike Locksley||Maryland||Big Ten|
|8.||Thomas Hammock||Northern Illinois||MAC|
|9.||Jimmy Lake||Washington||Pac 12|
|10.||Jay Norvell||Nevada||Mountain West|
|11.||Karl Dorrell||Colorado||Pac 12|
2020-2021 NCAA FBS Head Coaching Changes: In the Dawn of COVID-19
2019-2020 NCAA Football Recruiting Calendars
Odds of Receiving a College Football Full Scholarship
How to Manage the College Football Recruiting Process