Study: College sports trail pro leagues in diversity hiring
A diversity report for racial and gender hiring across college sports found overall improvement yet still reported grades lagging behind the professional ranks.
Wednesday's report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida assigned an overall C-plus score, a B for racial hiring and a C-plus for gender hiring. The report examined a range of positions including leadership at the NCAA headquarters, conference commissioners and head coaches based on data from the 2018-19 season.
The numeric scores in each category were the highest since researchers revised the grading scale for the 2015-16 report to account for changing national demographics. But lead report author and institute director Richard Lapchick noted in the report that the grades trailed those of professional leagues reviewed in other TIDES studies such as the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and WNBA.
"When you see those numbers for athletic directors, associate athletic directors across all three divisions, head coaches of men's teams, head coaches of women's teams – those are the positions you tend to look at most in terms of leadership positions in college athletics," Lapchick said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The whiteness of those positions is striking and has remained striking.
"I mean, it's better than it was when we started doing it. But it's not overwhelmingly better."
The study reported that 85% of head coaches in men's Division I sports were white, with that figure increasing in Division II (86.9%) and Division III (91.1%). Those numbers were similar on the women's side at 83.2% in Division I, 85.5% in Division II and 91.2% in Division III.
The figures for Division I men's basketball offered a more specific example, with blacks filling 23.6% of head-coaching positions but representing 53.2% of the players.
"The lack of opportunities for head basketball coaches of color is still a major area of concern," the study states.
The study's F grades included gender hiring for Division I head coaches and assistant coaches in men's sports, as well as for Division I athletics directors.
Gains included the NCAA's national office, which earned a B-plus in racial-hiring practices for both senior leadership and professional administration and an A-plus in both for gender.
In a statement, NCAA chief operating officer and chief legal officer Donald Remy said "there is more work to be done" when it comes to diversity hiring at the college level, adding that it is "important that the national office models the behavior it expects its membership to pattern."
"Some numbers are moving in the right direction, and many schools and conferences have signed the NCAA Presidential Pledge, which is their public commitment to achieving racial and ethnic diversity and gender equity in athletics hiring," Remy said. "It is imperative that senior officials maintain intentional and inclusive hiring practices in athletics."
The report's overall score of 78.7 was up from a 77.3 from the previous year. The score for racial hiring climbed two points to 81.6 while the gender score of 75.8 was up slightly from 75.1.
The study notes there are more jobs available at schools and conferences than in professional sports, offering more opportunities to improve the numbers.
"If we make diversity so important at the college level, it will be visible because sports are so visible," Lapchick said. "And it can encourage communities of color that there are opportunities out there for change that maybe they haven't seen very much evidence of up to now."