Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Lack of Diversity in UMass Basketball

By Elisheva Azarael

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

There seems to have been confusion over who was getting phone calls for the position of University of Massachusetts Amherst head basketball coach after Derek Kellogg’s termination. The Athletic Director, Ryan Bamford, claims that it was just “a timing thing,” as they were scattering around to figure out who they were going to hire as a replacement.

In the supposed rush, Pat Kelsey, the current coach for the Winthrop Eagles, was hired, then backed out of the job 35 minutes before his introductory press conference. During this haphazard process, Boston Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry was called in for two interviews. But instead, Matt McCall was hired as the new head coach.

I was a little quick to judge in the beginning, but I guess it gives us hope for the future, considering the program’s recent dry spell. His success rate is surprising for such a young coach.

In his first season with Chattanooga, McCall racked up 29 wins, the most a first-year coach attained that year nationally. He was coined the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2016 and even took a pay cut to coach for UMass.

But I still think that the hiring of McCall over Shrewsberry is a little too suspicious to ignore. McCall may have a great record, but Shrewsberry has more experience. He played college basketball for four years at Hanover College, has served as the assistant coach for Purdue University, Butler University, Wabash College and DePauw University. He had a stint in basketball operations at both Butler and Marshall. He was also head coach for two seasons at Indiana University South Bend.

Before coming to UMass, Matt McCall was Chattanooga’s head coach for two seasons and had been an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic and University of Florida. Before that, he had only served as a manager and a director of basketball operations, both at University of Florida.  Additionally, he never played basketball at the college level. His experience altogether adds up to 15 years. Shrewsberry’s adds up to 22. And four of them are with the National Basketball Association.

You do the math.  Does it sound outrageous?  It should. It’s alarming for multiple reasons. The most important reasons are success—and diversity. Shrewsberry happens to be one of an increasingly small percentage of Black coaches in the business.

Shrewsberry was interviewed for the position twice last month. It’s possible he could have been asking for a lot of money, but Kellogg was Massachusetts’ highest paid state employee, earning approximately $1 million a year. That sum was promised to increase had he performed well.

Officials might not have wanted to chance paying big money before seeing quality work. But the NBA is to ball players what Broadway is to stage actors. Shrewsberry’s professional coaching experience makes him more than qualified to coach for college ball. Not hiring him was itself a gamble with our team’s future success. I’d rather pay top dollar for a shot at professional-quality performance on and off the court than throw chump change at the greater possibility for getting less than stellar.

According to the most recent College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card, only 22.3 percent of all Division I basketball coaches were Black in 2015. That same report says that in the 2005-2006 season, 25.2 were Black, meaning diversity has only decreased in the last decade.

Other organizations are calling for an NCAA version of the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which requires all professional football teams to interview at least one minority when searching for new head coaches. Though not quite perfect, because of the rule, the number of Black head coaches in the league nearly tripled from 2003 to 2011.

According to The Washington Post, the lack of diversity in college football head coaching is due to a lack of diversity in high offices. There has never been a minority NCAA president, nor has there ever been a minority commissioner for any of the Power Five conferences.

The firms universities pay for coach-searching are mostly white, and influential news reporting is made up of mostly white people. The Post’s article says that “studies on hiring practices and unconscious biases…  suggest we tend to favor those who are similar to us.”

This means that there’s an underlying, trickle-down buddy system going on within college sports that UMass may be participating in, whether the school’s administration is aware of it or not.

Elisheva Azarael is a Collegian columnist and be reached at [email protected]



7 Responses to “Lack of Diversity in UMass Basketball”

  1. Ron DuLait on April 3rd, 2017 2:03 am

    Good article. Now write one on diversifying the roster to look like america.

  2. OKC on April 3rd, 2017 3:26 pm

    What about the discrimination against white players in the NCAA and NBA? Or Asian and Latin players? Where’s the outrage?

  3. Josh Adams on April 3rd, 2017 5:03 pm

    This is a poorly written article. There is no argument in this piece which mentions how Shrewsberry is a better FIT for UMass, and has won as a Head Coach on the college level.

  4. Matt on April 3rd, 2017 5:49 pm

    This is just an article full of baseless and/or incorrect claims. You never reached out to Bamford or anyone else in the organization, and you have absolutely no idea what happened in meetings or in interviews. Your argument boils down to “they picked a white guy over a black guy, therefor it was racist”. Pretty much your only backup was that Shrewsberry has NBA experience, which contrary to your claims, doesn’t mean anything. Does NBA experience make you a good recruiter? Good at dealing with the media? A good fit with the players and the AD? I think not, and you know that.

    There’s obviously some racism involved in hiring, there is in any sport and really any industry, but it’s nearly impossible to to pinpoint individual hires as examples of racism when you have no idea what actually happened in meetings and interviews. Go ahead and make an overall awareness article or one in favor of a “NCAAM Rooney Rule” that’s all fine, but there absolutely no basis to claim race is involved in this case besides overall percentages from college athletics.

    This is a poor attempt at making a race issue out of a non-issue and should be removed from the website. I expect better vetting of OP/ED pieces from the collegian.

  5. graham on April 4th, 2017 12:16 pm

    NBA has no correlation to being a good college coach. That is why John Calipari and Rick Patino failed. In the NBA everyone right now is being paid well, so if you try to push them motivation wise they don’t react the same way as students in college as they have the money to ignore you. This is the main reason John Calipari and Rick Patino I think have more effect in college and why I feel like NBA experience really doesn’t count for much in this recruiting choice. Both coaches have little experience as a coach and not as an assistant or something else, but I would say looking just at the coaching record and team he coached, Mccall has a much better resume, not just his success, but also for the success in the schools he participated. I also give bonus where Mccall is comming from probably even a weaker conference than the A10 now. That is unique as most of our previous recent coaches usually are strong recruiting power coaches and have a history working with conferences that have stronger recruiting power as well. I Shrewsberry has a history at Purdue University, big ten conference and had more recruiting power, I think that helps him do well in the NBA but for the situation UMass is in doesn’t translate as well. I think logically the resume fits the need for umass better and hopefully I am right, since Travis Ford I have not really seen us having a coach that can motivate and get our team to win clutch games, that is needed first, after that umass needs to put money in to get the talent.

  6. OKC on April 4th, 2017 5:23 pm

    The best thing about UMass when I went there was the basketball team. The only thing that made it feel like a major university. Coach Cal had some questionable recruiting tactics and was notoriously permissive in those days, but he coaxed a bunch of overmatched, D2 level players to win some very exciting games. He is a great X and O’s coach and a great loss to UMass. They were never the same before or after he left.

  7. JMe on April 28th, 2017 12:22 pm

    This is a really poorly done article and I do not understand why it is allowed to even be posted. There is no valid argument made here as to why Shrewsberry should have been hired except because he is black. Anyone who makes a claim that success as an NBA coach translates to college success (or vice versa) is clearly not familiar with the game. There are plenty of ways to make a valid argument about racial bias…author chose to just spew nonsense. Looks like a 7th grade essay.

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