The Illinois Fighting Illini have never had a black football coach. (They're also named after a confederation of Native American tribes, but we're not quite going there right now, I don't think.) Trustee Lawrence Oliver is voting against the contract of new head coach Tim Beckman for that reason:
He called it a "sad irony" that the UI places emphasis on diversity as a leading public university but has never had an African-American head football or basketball coach in its history. That "dubious distinction," he said, is shared in the Big Ten only with Purdue and Nebraska.
"African-Americans predominate these two sports," and have made significant gains in the assistant coaching ranks and to a lesser extent head coaching ranks, he said.
Oliver acknowledges new Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was interviewed for the job, along with Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson. This doesn't change Beckman's hire, and really has nothing to do with Beckman -- neither he nor Illinois did anything wrong here -- but is a reminder that major college football remains embarrassingly low on black head coaches.
For more on the Illini, visit Illinois blog Hail to the Orange.