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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, 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 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. 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 an 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 Coaching Changes for 2022-2023

Hires for 2022-2023

Deion Sanders on sidelines at Jackson State football game.
Deion Sanders takes HC job at Colorado on 12/3/2022.

Coaching Moves and Retirements for 2022-2023

  • Herm Edwards was fired at Arizona State on September 18, 2022.
  • Karl Dorrell was fired at Colorado on October 2, 2022.
  • Willie Taggart was fried at Florida Atlantic on November 25, 2022.
  • David Shaw resigned after 12 seasons at Stanford on November 27, 2022.

Hires for 2021-2022 

  1. Virginia hires Clemson Offensive Coordinator Tony Elliot to replace Bronco Mendenhall.
  2. Temple grabs Texas running backs coach Stan Drayton to replace Roy Carey.
  3. Marcus Freeman replaces Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. For more about Freeman, click the following link “The Most Intriguing NCAA FBS Head Coaching Changes of 2021-2022.”

Coaching Moves and Retirements for 2021-2022

  • Jay Norvell leaves Nevada after five seasons to take the HC job at Colorado State.
  •  Jimmy Lake was fired from Washington after only 13 games as head coach.

 As of December 18, 2022, there are only 15 Black head coaches at NCAA FBS programs, representing just 11.45% of the head coaches at the 131 member institutions.

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

In light of the pending racial discrimination lawsuit bought by former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores against the NFL, it’s vital that we also keep our eyes and ears tuned to the professional ranks. Especially considering Black players represent approximately 70% of the NFL team rosters, and as of this writing (2/3/2022), the NFL only has one African American head coach, Mike Tomlin (Pittsburg Steelers).

Perhaps the NFL and its owners believe that this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop DoggEminem, and Kendrick Lamar are enough crumbs to lull us back into complacency. Think again. This good ol’ boy plantation game has gone on too long, and a reckoning is coming. We wish Brian Flores much success in his lawsuit. And may the fans, entertainers, and celebrities do all that’s necessary to make a change.


February 19, 2022: Brian Flores took the position as Pittsburg Steelers’ Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebacker Coach eighteen days after he filed his class action lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams.

April 18, 2022: Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and former NFL assistant coach Ray Horton join Brian Flores’ class action lawsuit against the NFL. The filings allege that the Arizona Cardinals, Tennesee Titans, and the Houston Texans engaged in racially discriminatory practices. Click here to read a detailed article about the new allegations brought by Wilks and Horton.

Last updated on December 18, 2022

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

1.Dino BabersSyracuseACC
2.James FranklinPenn StateBig Ten
3.Mike LocksleyMarylandBig Ten
4.Thomas HammockNorthern IllinoisMAC
5.Mel Tucker Michigan StateBig Ten
6.Jay NorvellColorado StateMountain West
7.Charles HuffMarshallUSA
8.Stan DraytonTempleAmerican
9.Tony ElliotVirginiaACC
10.Marcus FreemanNotre DameIndependent
11.Maurice LinguistBuffaloMAC
12.Deion SandersColoradoPac 12
13.Lance TaylorWestern MichiganMAC
14.Ryan WaltersPurdueBig Ten
15.Kenni BurnsKent StateMAC
Current running list of Black head coaches at NCAA FBS (formerly Division IA) colleges and universities, presented by Sports USA.

Related Links:

2022-2023 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


  4. Ben cooper
    August 28, 2022 @ 8:28 am

    In regards to your running list of fbs head coaches dated August 14, 2022; you left out the university at Buffalo head coach Maurice Linguist. I am surprised his name was left off considering UB has been highly recognized over the recent years for it diversity and inclusion.


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