Gill Believes Changes On The Way

By Adam Caparell - February 28, 2007

Turner Gill, now gearing up for his second season at Buffalo, is one of only six African-American head coaches in the Bowl Subdivision. And the fact that only 5 percent of the coaches on college football's highest level - six of 119, to be exact - are African-American is something Gill hopes can change down the road. Or it could prevent wannabe minority coaches from entering the line of work.

"I ain't going to sit here and say it's a concern of mine every single day as I go about doing my job, but it concerns me about the future for African-Americans getting involved in coaching as a profession," Gill said.

"Will I, at least, have an opportunity if I choose to become a coordinator or a head coach. If you look at the numbers you say, 'Well, I don't know if that's really that legitimate of an opportunity or some people won't give me that opportunity.'"

Gill thinks changes are on the way, but it's going to trickle down to the college game from the nation's most influential sports organization.

"As things are happening more and more in the NFL, I think it may slowly happen more in the college ranks," Gill said. "It's really all about communication, about building relationships with the people who are making decisions, particularly the presidents and athletic directors."

Gill said college administrators are always going to hire the people they know, who they're most comfortable with. And if they don't know, and haven't been exposed to, African-Americans then worthy candidates will continue to get passed over.

But Gill sense it's all changing.

"There's things in place now that have allowed the A.D.s, the consulting firms and agents to get to know African-Americans one-on-one," Gill said. "It's helped build a closer relationship and an understanding of the qualities of African-American people. Before all the African-Americans stayed over here and all the Caucasians stayed over there - so to speak - and they never intermingled to get to know each other.

"Now you can know this guy is a quality guy and know he can do a great job coaching and he can be a great ambassador for the university."

On this, the last day of February, Gill acknowledges a special appreciation for Black History Month, one that just may run deeper than most.

"Of all the African American people, going way back into the slavery days and all those type of things, they paid a price to give me an opportunity to do what I’m doing. And I thank them for it. That's what Black History Month means to me," Gill said.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:14 PM on February 28, 2007

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