Ernie Kent wants to see more opportunities for Black coaches in the NCAA


Ernie Kent is a bit of a legend in the Northwest. 

The Illinois native played for the Kamikaze Kids, a nickname given to the Oregon Ducks basketball program, from 1973-1977.

20 years after leaving Eugene, he returned, only this time it was as the first African-American basketball coach in Oregon history. 

Kent spent more than a decade coaching the Ducks before being let go in 2010. 

But his heart remained in the Northwest, and from 2014 to 2019, Kent coached the Washington State Cougars. 

His resume speaks for itself, but it may have never happened without the tutelage of other Black coaching legends like John Chaney and John Thompson.

But once those older coaches have left the game, the chances for Black coaches in the NCAA seemed to leave with them. 

Something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Kent. 

There was great opportunity when those powerful voices were in the game. As those voices have left the game, I think opportunities are not so great right now.  There is a glass ceiling that's sitting there because you have some outstanding assistant coaches that are being well paid, sitting on benches,  not getting opportunities to get upper-level jobs.   

Ernie Kent

"There are a plethora of Black coaches out there that can be extremely successful if given the opportunity," Kent added. "The NCAA has to figure this out... How do you create more opportunities for African-American coaches when your profession is dominated by African-American players? The optics of that do not look good whatsoever."

Kent has a point. Of the 12 current head basketball coaches in the Pac-12, none are Black. 

Will that change in the future? Only time will tell. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent].