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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

UH high in minority hiring

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Herman Frazier, whose name has been submitted to the University of Hawai'i's Board of Regents for approval, is one of only four blacks at 117 Division I-A schools to hold the athletic department's top position.

Frazier will be replacing the nation's only Asian-American athletic director. Hugh Yoshida, UH's AD since 1993, announced he would retire in December when his contract at UH expires.

According to the 2001 Racial and Gender Report Card, black men made up just 2.4 percent of NCAA Division I athletic directors during the 1999-00 season. Caucasian men accounted for 95.9 percent.

The number of black athletic directors has dropped slightly from 1995, when they held 3.3 percent of the positions.

Currently, there are only four black athletic directors at the Division I-A level: Alabama-Birmingham's Frazier, Southern California's Mike Garrett, Arizona State's Eugene Smith and South Florida's Lee Roy Selmon. (Clarence Underwood retired last week as athletic director at Michigan State.)

"Our colleges remained the worst for real opportunities for people of color at this level," the report stated.

The study was done by Northeastern University's Sport In Society, which oversees various educational and outreach programs geared toward bringing about positive social change within sports. The report is a comprehensive analysis of the hiring practices of women and minorities at the professional and collegiate levels.

(The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, which serves as the professional association for those in the field of intercollegiate athletics administration, does not track the hiring of minorities.)

Fitz Hill, who has studied the hiring of minorities in athletics for 10 years, said the challenge minorities face is being judged collectively and not individually. The success and failures of minority coaches and administrators affect their ethnic counterparts, he said.

"When you're hiring a white coach, you never see people go back and look at the records of white coaches collectively," said Hill, also the head football coach at San Jose State. "There's double standards in hiring. Hopefully, someday race won't be an issue ... To say it's not an issue is to be in denial."

Hill said minorities aren't given enough opportunities to attain high-level positions in athletics, whether as a head coach or an athletic director. Most candidates for these positions are mentored, identified early as possible successors, he said. Minorities are often overlooked, Hill said.

"The hiring process itself restricts those opportunities," he said. "It's unfortunate that that's the way the system works. Oftentimes you don't have the mentorship that's needed (to be promoted to higher positions)."

The likelihood of UH hiring a black as athletic director is good news to civil rights advocates and members of minority communities in Hawai'i, said Daphne Barbee-Wooten, a local civil rights attorney.

"There are just too few positive African-American role models in Hawai'i," Barbee-Wooten said. "It's just wonderful news."

Hill said if Frazier gets the job, it's because he's qualified, not because he's black.

"I applaud the efforts made (in Hawai'i)," Hill said. "One would assume (the job) was going to the best person. And he emerged as the best person ... I'm sure he was sought after because they felt he could do the job."

Hill said black coaches and administrators face the same challenges as those from any other ethnic group — once they get the job. (Hill is one of only five blacks among 117 head football coaches at NCAA Division I-A schools.)

"The problem is getting the opportunity," Hill said. "It's the subjective process of hiring that creates barriers. Once you get the job, it's very objective. You just hope you can get into that kind of situation, where you're judged based on your performance. ... As long as you can get the job done, that's the most important.

"The color doesn't fail," he said, "the person does."