In an effort to promote diversity in Division I athletics, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has given Texas A&M’s Laboratory for Diversity in Sport a $100,000 grant to identify colleges and universities that develop outstanding diversity practices in their athletic departments.
Texas A&M’s Laboratory for Diversity in Sport will use the grant to conduct research, assess and identify how the top athletic programs in the country incorporate diversity in their operations. The lab will present the program with the most outstanding diversity practices with the Diversity in Athletics Award in March, the only award of its kind nationally.
Dr. George Cunningham, director of the laboratory, says there are eight criteria the lab will be using to assess each school’s diversity practices. “Some of these include graduation rates of African-American male and female athletes, [gender] and racial diversity of athletic department employees, the diversity strategy of the department itself, Title IX compliance, the overall culture of diversity in the athletic department and other criteria,” he says.
“Many schools say they promote diversity, but we want to recognize the ones that do the very best job at it.”
The NCAA has praised Texas A&M’s previous efforts in diversity research and have high hopes for the lab’s current undertaking. “The Diversity in Athletics Award will not only educate but also inspire others to support and replicate exceptional practices in their athletic departments,” the organization stated in announcing the grant to Texas A&M.
Cunningham says the evaluation process would not be easy because he and others will have to examine data from about 1,000 NCAA schools before selecting winners.
“We believe there are many advantages associated with people knowing the benefits of diversity to their workplace and how to make diversity work in their particular context,” Cunningham says. “The research that we’ll be doing for this project will allow for such an understanding.”
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