Charles Barkley’s recent comments that race was the main criteria for Auburn University in picking its football coach are potentially very destructive. On December 13 Auburn named Iowa State’s Gene Chizik as its head coach rather than Turner Gill of the University of Buffalo. Barkley wasn’t at any of the coaching interviews. He hasn’t done any reporting on the process. But he is sure Gill was not hired because he is black.
Such accusations harm the progress of getting more black head coaches at top schools (there are only four black coaches among 119 programs in the NCAA’s Football Bowl subdivision). Both Chizik and Gill have losing records in their brief head coaching careers. But Chizik has the bigger star on his resume, having been the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2004 when the Tigers finished 13-0. Gill’s biggest accomplishment was winning the MAC Championship game this year.