At the University of Texas, football is religion. At Penn State University, they need football for redemption. So when these storied programs hired black head coaches within days of each other to return them to past glory, it was a major moment for a sport that has been among the slowest to promote African-American leaders at the highest level.
There have been other black head coaches at top football schools — Notre Dame, Stanford, Miami, UCLA. But the recent hiring of Charlie Strong at Texas and James Franklin at Penn State sent a powerful message, because of the combined prestige, mystique and influence of those teams. “It’s a historical moment,” said Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl and a former head coach at Grambling. “We’ve come a long way in a couple weeks,” Williams said. “Even though we don’t have as many as you would like, but when you get a Penn State and a Texas, them schools together almost make up for about 10 schools.”
There are 125 colleges playing in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision. In 2013, 13 of them had black coaches. That was down from 15 in 2012 and an all-time high of 17 in 2011. Strong and Franklin have not been replaced by African-Americans, so the overall numbers remain low. For Franklin, the numbers are less important than the opportunities. “I don’t underestimate the significance of this moment. I take a lot of pride in that,” he said in an interview. “But the most important thing is we’re getting to a point where universities and organizations and corporations are hiring people based on merit and the most qualified guy.
Historically Black Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, has announced that Kevin D. Rome will become the 19th president of the educational institution on June 1. Current Department of Education statistics show that there are about 3,400 undergraduate students at the university and Blacks are 41 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Dr. Rome is currently vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Dr. Rome has been an administrator at North Carolina Central since 2008. Previously, he was vice president for student services at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He has also held administrative posts at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, and Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Dr. Rome holds a master’s degree from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.
They look alike, talk alike, dress alike…and they’re best friends.
But that’s not all twins LaTonya and LaToya Harris have in common. They’re also the top two graduates of South Garland High School class of 2010. And they’ll even give their graduation speech together as valedictorian and salutatorian.
Although their parents say they’ve been baffled by the girls since birth, they can’t help but be proud of their twin prodigies. So what’s the plan for next year?
The girls will begin their college careers (rooming together, of course) at The University of Texas – both on full scholarships.