Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018

UA introduces first African-American head football coach

TUCSON — On the heels of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the University of Arizona introduced the football program’s first African-American head coach.

History was made in college football for the second time in the state with the hiring of Kevin Sumlin. UA’s rival, Arizona State, brought aboard its first African-American head football coach, Herm Edwards, in December.

“Some say it’s a historical day, and you know what, it is,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said. “We broke a barrier. We should be really proud of that. Clearly we found the right guy to lead this program, to be the next guy to take Arizona football forward.”

Sumlin recognizes the importance of being the first black head coach of the football program but hopes his hiring paves the way for a future where the hiring of an African-American head coach is no longer the main topic of conversation.

“It is significant but this is my third time being the head coach, and I’ve been asked that question every time,” Sumlin said. “It is significant and it shouldn’t be overlooked but you know you hope that in time, that is not the first question you get.”
The hiring has been well received, including from university president Robert Robbins.

“Thirteen days ago, Dave Heeke and I made a decision to go in a different direction with our football program,” he said. “I asked him to find someone who was going to be of the highest character. Who was going to focus on academics, was going to win, and we got our man right here, coach Kevin Sumlin.”