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Meet the Five Black Coaches Who’ve Led Their Team Into the Men’s Sweet 16; A Culture Shift Toward a Level Playing Field 

The NCAA Tournament aka March Madness is the best championship tournament in all of sports. Where else can a No. 15 seed like Saint Peter’s have the opportunity to knockoff a blue blood like Kentucky?

(Art: David Grubb)

With all the upsets, heartbreaks and last second heroics, there is nothing quite like March Madness. Making the Sweet 16 is not easy. If it was, many more teams would do it. It’s a benchmark accomplishment for a program looking to establish the current class as historic. And a coach looking to boost successful regular-season résumé. 

These five black coaches exude “black excellence” and have led their programs into this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

Kelvin Sampson (Houston), Juwan Howard (Michigan), Hubert Davis (UNC), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Shaheen Holloway (Saint Peter’s). That’s 32 percent of the coaches that will be represented in this week’s festivities.

Last year only three black coaches led teams to the Sweet 16, they were the aforementioned Sampson, Howard and Leonard Hamilton of Florida State.

According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, 22.7 percent of the coaches in men’s Division I basketball in the 2019-20 season were Black, while 53.2 percent of the players were. Out of the 77 coaches to have led a team this season at the Power Six level, just 13 are Black.

Kelvin Sampson Has Been Here Before: Houston Cougars

Sampson is the veteran of the bunch, having led both Oklahoma (2002) and Houston (2021) to the Final Four. Sampson also coached at Indiana but was forced to resign after two seasons due to NCAA allegations.

He arrived at a downtrodden Houston Cougars program five years ago. In that timeframe he’s led them to a 135-28 record, three AAC titles, one Final Four and two Sweet 16 appearances.

The Cougars have the fourth-best odds to cut the nets down in New Orleans, behind the three No. 1 seeds left in Gonzaga, Arizona and Kansas.

To find out more about the five Black coaches starring in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, click here.

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