NewsOne Featured Video
Tennessee v Georgia

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty

Football coaches play an important role in the lives of many young Black men. When it comes to college rosters for football and basketball, Black student-athletes make up nearly 60% of the players, but their coaches are majority white. 

According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, in 2021 Black coaches held only 9% of head positions at the Division I level, 6.2% at the Division II level, and a measly 5.9% in Division III.  The study also revealed that 82.2% of men’s basketball head coaches are white, along with 89% of football head coaches and 94.5% of baseball head coaches across all three divisions, as reported by AP. The women’s side was not better, as white coaches made up 82.1%, 84.9% and 88.7% in Divisions I, II, and III of head coaching positions, respectively. 

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with white coaches teaching Black players, but when a coach is culturally incompetent or even racist, it can be detrimental to the development of young Black men.

Former Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired by the school in 2021 after an investigation found he had participated in a recruiting scandal. 

The Knoxville News Sentinel recently obtained documents from the investigation that revealed Pruitt referenced George Floyd when asked if he violated any NCAA rules.  According to the publication, Pruitt gave a player’s mother $300 in a Chick-fil-A-bag, after thinking about the murder of George Floyd and racial inequality. 

“Then you throw in George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, okay, so you sit there as a white man and you see all of this going on and you can see these kids suffering,” Pruitt said explaining why he gave the mother the money. He also defended his actions, telling investigators he would do it again. 

Unfortunately, Pruitt let his white guilt get in the way of him doing the job he was paid to do. 

The Knoxville News Sentinel also reported that mothers of former Tennessee players told investigators about the payouts after their sons were granted limited immunity by the NCAA. 

Having sympathy for the players you coach is one thing, but potentially getting them entangled in violations, which could get them reprimanded by the university or NCAA seems like a coach who is culturally incompetent and doesn’t understand his players. Although Pruitt’s heart seemed in the right place, white guilt can blind you into doing something racist and stupid.

Interestingly enough, coaching college football is tailor-made for someone seeking control over the fate of Black men, which is a scary thought when you think about some coaches.

Below we’ve listed other notable instances of football coaches who were accused of being anti-Black.

If you’re a Black parent who has a son with aspirations of playing college football make sure you do your due diligence on these head coaches, because they will be a part of shaping that young man’s future. 


1. Sen. Tommy Tuberville

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville was a college head football coach for two decades. The senator recently made an appearance on CNN and went back and forth with host Kaitlan Collins about whether or not white nationalists are racist.

In May he also said when asked about white nationalists in the military during an interview with WBHM:

“We are losing in the military so fast. Our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why. Because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda.”

Just imagine what Tuberville thought about his players, which were mostly Black.

When Tuberville was pressed on the issue of white nationalists in the military, he responded, “Well, they call them that,” he said. “I call them Americans.”

2. Pat Fitzgerald

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Northwestern at Iowa Source:Getty

Newly fired Northwestern University head coach, Pat Fitzgerald was recently accused of fostering a racist team environment for Black and brown players.

As we previously reported, the Daily Northwestern published the accounts of three former players who claimed they were part of a football program with “a certain culture of enabling racism and other microaggressions.”

Specifically, Fitzgerald is accused of lending preferential treatment to white players and ordering Black players with dreadlocks and other Black hairstyles to change their looks to comply with “the Wildcat way,” a reference to the team mascot. A familiar refrain from Fitzgerald was that he wanted the Black players to have “good, clean American fun” in ways that were not imposed on white players, including allowing them to have long hair, the former players said.

3. Mark Taylor

Footage surfaced showing Mark Taylor, a middle school teacher and coach for Houston County Schools, using extremely racist language and dropping the “N-word” multiple times. The videos were shared after Taylor himself posted them. He was fired and banished from the county in 2007, the same year he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of influencing a witness and was accused of stalking and harassing his ex-fiancée

4. Dabo Swinney

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Capital One Orange Bowl Source:Getty

Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney was accused by two former players who are Black of using the N-word in a negative reference to rap music being played in the locker room. Notably, Swinney is still Clemson’s head coach.

5. Danny Pearman

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 07 CFP National Championship Pregame Source:Getty

Clemson assistant coach Danny Pearman was forced to apologize in 2020 after social media got wind that he had a racial slur while in an argument with a player during a practice in 2017. Pearman allegedly heard players using the N-word and tried to use it back. 

6. Liberty University

In 2020, two Black football players at Liberty University,  Kei’Trel Clark and Tayvion Land, transferred because of alleged “racial insensitivity” and “cultural incompetence” in the program and on campus. Just two weeks later women’s basketball player Asia Todd announced she was transferring, also citing “racial insensitivities” at the school. No specific coach was mentioned in this story, but we still thought it was worth a note. 

7. Chris Doyle

In 2021, Chris Doyle was fired as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ strength coach after more than a dozen former players said he bullied and discriminated against them during his time at Iowa. An independent investigation later found that the football program’s rules, “perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.”

8. Gary Patterson

In 2020, former TCU football coach Gary Patterson allegedly used a racial slur while instructing players to stop using the word during meetings. The incident led to a group of players skipping practice including Dylan Jordan, who called coach Patterson out on Twitter for using the slur. 

Coach Patterson took to his personal Twitter the next day apologizing to his players. 

“I apologize for the use of a word that, in any context, is unacceptable. I have always encouraged our players to do better and be better and I must live by the same standards,” he wrote in a post. 

9. Kirk Ferentz

Iowa Spring Football Game Source:Getty

In 2020, 13 Black former Iowa football players filed a lawsuit against the school claiming that racial discrimination was prevalent under Kirk Ferentz 

In the lawsuit, the players allege they were demeaned with racial slurs; forced to abandon Black hairstyles, fashion and culture to fit the “Iowa Way.” 

The lawsuit reached a settlement agreement in 2023, which agreed to pay

The settlement, which was reached in 2023,  agreed to pay $4.175 million to the former players.

10. Jon Gruden

UFC 282: Saaiman v Koslow Source:Getty

In 2021, Jon Gruden resigned as the head coach of the Raiders after e-mails surfaced of him making derogatory comments towards members of the LGBTQ+ community and DeMaurice Smith, the labor head of the NFL’s Players Association.