Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Charles Barkley Speaks About Alma Mater Not Picking A Qualified Black Coach

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I don’t like Charles Barkley very much, I have to be honest about that. On an appearance on ESPN, I was asked by Charles’ buddy, Stephen A. Smith, what I think about Barkley possibly running for Governor of Alabama. My comment was that “Charles Barkley is a man who always says what’s on his mind. But the problem is that there is never anything in his brain to begin with.”

So, if I don’t like you and I give you a compliment, then that really means I like what you just did.

Charles Barkley, the man I can’t bear to listen to on TNT, recently called out his alma mater, Auburn University for their decision to hire the woefully unqualified Gene Chizik over Turner Gill, a coach who actually deserved the job. Gene Chizik has amassed the stellar record of 5-19 over the past two seasons at Iowa State University. The “geniuses” at Auburn University also paid their last coach, Tommy Tubberville, $5.1 million dollars to hit the road after going 85-10 during the last 10 seasons. This is the same brilliant thinking which leads us to believe that sub-mediocre human beings like George Bush and Sarah Palin are qualified to run the free world. Now I remember why I left the south.

One would think that Turner Gill of The University of Buffalo might have been a good pick. He took Buffalo to their first bowl game in school history, and soundly defeated unbeaten Ball State, who was ranked #12 in the country. The problem was that Gill posed the great deal breaker of nearly every head football coaching contract in NCAA sports: He was Black.

Sure, if he were trying to be a wide receiver, he’d be a lock. If he were trying to be a janitor or cafeteria worker, I am sure that Auburn University would have recruited him heavily. But Gill doesn’t realize that for schools like Auburn (and Kentucky, Tennessee and many other schools in the NCAA, particularly the SEC), Black men are only supposed to sacrifice their bodies on the field for virtually no wages, with little hope of actually earning the millions of dollars the NCAA pays its head coaches. Over 50% of all college football players are black, yet less than 4% of their coaches are Black. The athletes earn over $2 Billion per year for the NCAA, yet many of their families live in poverty. In other words, the NCAA has become the ultimate plantation, lawn jockeys and all.

Terry Bowden, Richard Lapchick and the rest of the country are calling it for what it is: Good old fashioned racism. They are stating, as I’ve said all along, that there is a time when African Americans must demand fairness in college sports, for the NCAA has shown almost no commitment to fairness when it comes to matters of race. Like our broken financial system, the system of college sport has created a network of irresponsible, illogical and unintelligent cronyism leading to embarrassing and inefficient outcomes. Paying $5.1 Million dollars to get rid of a good coach so you can pay more money to get a bad one is flat out stupid. Even if you are a racist, you should at least be a smart one.

I applaud Charles Barkley for pointing out the obvious, that Auburn University and the NCAA need a wake-up call. This isn’t 1955 anymore.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and a faculty affiliate at the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He does regular work in national media, including CNN, CBS Sports, BET and ESPN. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

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