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Slive comments on racial issue

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 30, 2003
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The Southeastern Conference is first in many things in football.
It is regarded as the top conference in NCAA football. It can boast of having two of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country in Georgia's David Greene and Ole Miss' Eli Manning. It is the top revenue drawing conference in the country. It was the first to hold a conference championship game.
But for all of the SEC's first, the conference is dead last in a very important and touchy subject hiring a black football coach.
A fact that has been highly debated and heated up a little more when Green Bay Packers running backs coach Sylvester Croom broke his silence on the issue of racing affecting his chances to become the new head coach at Alabama.
Croom, who played center for the Crimson Tide from 1973-74 under Bear Bryant, and former Alabama quarterback and Miami Dolphins assistant Mike Shula were both up for the position after the university dumped Mike Price.
Shula, who is white, got the job, and Croom, who is black, told the Associated Press on Monday that he feels that race was a factor in him not getting the job.
Croom did say in the Monday article that he felt he got a fair interview and support from Alabama athletic director Mal Moore but somebody at the university nixed the idea of hiring him and pressed for Shula.
The fact that the SEC is the only big-time league that has never had a black head coach was also on the mind of conference commissioner Mike Slive.
It's a much-debated issue in college football. A mere 21 blacks have been head coaches at Division I-A programs.
Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt said steps are being taken all the time to assure that minority candidates have equal chances at job openings.
While the conference has made inroads in SEC basketball , currently, four of the 12 head coaches are black, the league is still waiting to break ground in its highest-profile sport.