Originally created 05/16/03

SEC office lacking blacks in leadership roles



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- With the Rev. Jesse Jackson calling for a black football coach in the Southeastern Conference, the league office finds itself in the odd position of encouraging campus diversity despite having an all-white senior staff.

Only two of the SEC's two dozen employees are black, and none of its 10 key leadership positions - commissioner, executive associate commissioner, associate commissioners and assistant commissioners - are held by blacks.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in an interview Wednesday that fostering ethnic diversity is a "primary objective of our conference."

But a league spokesman said the SEC has a hard time putting minorities in its own key jobs because there is little job turnover.

"The people we have had in senior management positions have been here awhile," Charles Bloom, an associate commissioner, said Thursday.

The SEC had a black assistant commissioner until Gene Byrd resigned more than a month ago, Bloom said, but the position hasn't been filled.

Speaking during a news conference in Montgomery on Thursday, Jackson said the SEC's all-white leadership "just shows you that the legacy is really perpetuating itself."

Jackson called for an investigation of hiring at the University of Alabama and other SEC schools after Alabama chose a white head football coach, Mike Shula, over a black candidate, Sylvester Croom.

Croom was an All-American at Alabama and spent 10 years as an assistant coach with the Crimson Tide. Currently an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers, he has coached in the NFL for 16 years.

Shula, son of NFL coach Don Shula, spent 15 years as an NFL assistant, including the past three with the Miami Dolphins before being hired by Alabama on May 8. He has never coached in college.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Slive said he spoke to Alabama officials during their coaching search. "I have confidence that they made a responsible decision," he said.

The league compiled a list of minority Division I-A football coaches and NFL assistants as potential head coaches and sent it to every league school last October, he said.

The SEC also is starting a minority internship program this summer in the league office to help train candidates for careers in athletic administration.