Posted: Thursday, May 15th 2003 at 5:40am
Jackson calls for probe into UA hiring practices
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA - The Rev. Jesse Jackson Wednesday night called for an investigation into the University of Alabama's hiring practices after the school chose a white head football coach over a black.
Jackson said he would meet Thursday with several Alabama legislators about an investigation into how the school hired Mike Shula, who is white, over Green Bay assistant Sylvester Croom, who is black.
Jackson added the investigation should not be limited to the head coaching job but should probe the state university's hiring practices in general.
``We should investigate the whole process,'' he said before addressing about 350 people at New Life Baptist Church in west Montgomery.
University spokeswoman Janet Griffith declined comment, saying UA President Robert Witt was out of town. Witt told Jackson before the school hired Shula that the school was considering minority candidates for the job.
Croom was an All-American at Alabama and spent 10 years as an assistant coach with the Crimson Tide.
Shula, son of NFL coach Don Shula, spent 15 years as an NFL assistant, including the past three with the Miami Dolphins before being hired by Alabama May 8. He played at Alabama but has never been a head coach and has never coached on a college staff.
Jackson said he believes Croom was more qualified than Shula and the university lost an opportunity to be the first Southeastern Conference member to hire a black coach.
``We must investigate the procedures and criteria of how he was hired,'' he said.
Jackson, who in recent days has been criticized heavily by many Alabama fans for his objections to Shula's hiring, has said he believes the NCAA should also investigate the hiring practices of head football coaches and athletic directors at all of the SEC schools.
Jackson said he planned to eventually meet with legislators in all the states where SEC schools are located.
Jackson traveled to Montgomery not only to call for an investigation into UA's hiring practices. He said he was forming an Alabama chapter of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to further the causes of the civil rights movement.
``The unfinished business in the South will make this country whole,'' he said, calling for an ``infrastructure of social justice'' in the region.
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