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Racial and Gender Hiring Practices in College Sports Backslide

College sports lost ground in hiring women and minorities, according to a new report released Thursday.

The report, produced by the University of Central Florida-based Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, shows that efforts to hire coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners actually worsened over the course of a year.

The report examined hiring practices of NCAA member institutions.

“It certainly calls for new strategies to bring about effective change,” said Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the institute and chief author of the report card. “I recently called for the equivalent of a civil rights movement in college sports.”

This is the worst report card for college sports in many years, Lapchick added.

For example, the study found that all 11 conference commissioners of the Football Bowl Subdivision are White men; and in men’s Division I basketball — long held as an area of great opportunity for coaches of color — the percentage of Black head coaches declined from 25.2 percent three years ago to its current 22.9 percent.

The one area of college sports the report did not criticize is NCAA headquarters, where there are three African-American vice presidents — one of whom is a woman — and four female vice presidents.

“The one place college sports got a good grade was headquarters, where (NCAA president) Myles Brand is in control of its destiny,” Lapchick said.

The NCAA disagreed with the rest of his assessment.

“Many athletic directors and other administrators are making the right decisions with their recent hires, and we are encouraged by this,” said Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice-president for diversity and inclusion. “We are definitely on the road to improvement. And while we have not yet turned the corner, we can at least see it in the distance.”

Terri Williams-Flournoy, a Black woman now in her fifth season as head coach of the women’s basketball team at Georgetown University, said those doing the hiring have to be willing to give young coaches of color opportunities.

“When I got the job at Georgetown, a lot of people said I didn’t have the experience because I’d never been a head coach before,” Williams-Flournoy said. “[These young Black female coaches] are doing the job as assistant coaches and they need to be given the opportunity to do the job as head coaches.”

Lapchick said hiring practices in college sports would not see significant improvement until there is something like an “Eddie Robinson Rule” put in place, something that would require colleges and universities to interview individuals of color for coaching positions.

He also thinks there needs to be some lawsuits.

“We have to look to the NCAA for leadership on some level, but obviously Myles Brand has been speaking about this for a long time,” Lapchick said. “It hasn’t brought about the changes he wants. I think we need to hold congressional hearings on it. Whenever Congress gets involved, we see colleges and universities take action.

“We have to invoke different methods right now,” said Lapchick. “It’s changed everywhere else. It hasn’t changed in college sports.”

The report found:

  • All 11 of the conference commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences were White men.
  • Of the 30 Division I conferences, excluding historically Black conferences, all conference commissioners were White. Three of those individuals were women.
  • Black women made up 15.7 percent of all Division I female athletes, but Blacks held just 7 percent of the head women’s coaching jobs.
  • In men’s Division I basketball, long held as an area of great opportunity for coaches of color, the percentage of head coaches was down to 22.9 percent from 25.2 percent in 2005-06.
  • Only six of 120 FBS head coaches were Black during the 2008 collegiate football season.
  • The athletic directors at Divisions I, II and III were White 90 percent or more of the time. At Division I, Blacks were more represented than in Divisions II and III. Women lost ground as athletic directors in Divisions II and III and remained static in Division I since 2006.

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