Coaching fraternity still is a closed-door society

ORLANDO – Jerry Baldwin has never had a winning season at Louisiana-Lafayette, but the third-year football coach stands among the elite in his profession.

Baldwin is among just 4.3 percent in his profession: he is one of the five black head coaches among the 117 Division I-A schools.

The others: Stanford’s Tyrone Willingham, Michigan State’s Bobby Williams, New Mexico State’s Tony Samuel and San Jose State’s Fitz Hill.

All five are members of the Black Coaches Association, and they join a hard-working fraternity of their own: role models in rough jobs.

The BCA has been disappointed in the lack of minority hiring for head coaches and offensive and defensive coordinators in I-A, and they’re also aware their members are trying to win games at programs not renowned for success.

The first black Division I head coach was Willie Jeffries at Wichita State in 1979.

“My first thing is to build the program to be the program I think it can be, to say that schools like ours are capable of competing and getting it done,” said Baldwin, 47, who, with basketball coach Jessie Evans, makes Louisiana-Lafayette the only I-A school with blacks coaching football and basketball.

“I’m very grateful to the administration for giving me the opportunity here. You’ve got to go hats off to my administration. They proved being black is not a factor here. But I’m not naive; it’s still a factor out there at other places. There are other minorities out there who are qualified to be head coaches.”

A backdrop to the situation is the number of minorities playing college football. The NCAA says 48.7 percent of Division I football players, including walk-ons, are minorities, and 39.5 percent are black.