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Report: Racial and Gender Hiring Practices in College Athletics is Concerning

Racial hiring practices in college athletics saw minor improvement but gender hiring practices declined, according to the 2022 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card (CSRGRC) from the University of Central Florida (UCF).Dr. Richard LapchickDr. Richard Lapchick

The report card, issued by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at UCF, assessed racial and gender hiring practices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and member institutions – it excludes historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) from such assessments.

“It is important to note that the omission of historically Black colleges and universities within this report is not to further the exclusion of these institutions, but rather to highlight the disproportionate hiring practices reflected across college sports,” the report noted. “Notably, HBCU athletic departments have high percentages of both ethnic minorities and women. If these institutions were accounted for within this report, the data would be skewed—and ultimately misleading and ineffective.”

The report examines personnel data – from sources such as the NCAA Demographics Database – concerning university presidents, athletics directors, coaches, administrative staff, and faculty athletics representatives for college sports.

As a whole, the combined grade for the 2022 CSRGRC was a "C" with 73.7 points, a decrease from 2021’s 75.8 points. Racial hiring practices received a "C", 73.3 points compared with 74.4 points in 2021. Gender hiring practices earned a "C" as well, 74.1 points from 73.8 points in 2021.

UCF’s Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of TIDES and the report’s primary author, said that hiring practices in college sports has worsened. 

“We do report cards on all the major professional leagues and college sport has the worst report card,” Lapchick said. “As somebody who has worked at an institution of higher education for 52 years, it's particularly disappointing to me that college sport has the worst record of everybody we cover."

A key concern illustrated in the report card is that of disproportionate representation between leadership and student athletes at Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions. The vast majority of university leaders are white despite most student athletes – in Division I football and basketball – being Black.

In D1 football at the FBS level, 44.7% of student athletes were Black or African American and 38.6% were white. In D1 men’s basketball, 52.4% were Black or African Americans and 24.3% were white. In Division I baseball however, 78.1% of student athletes were white.

And in D1 women’s basketball, 39.9% of athletes were Black or African American, down from 40.7% in 2020-2021, and 33.2% were white, down from 33.6% in 2020-2021.

By contrast, 78.6% of chancellors and presidents, 78.6% of athletic directors, 83.6% of faculty athletic representatives, 80.0% of conference commissioners were white. And 60.3% of chancellors and presidents, 67.9% of athletic directors, 50% of faculty athletic representatives, and 70% of conference commissioners were white men.

In terms of coaches, the numbers are not far off either. 84.1% of Division I, 85.2% of D2, and 89% of D3 men’s coaches were white, and 80.6%, 84.5%, and 88.1% of those in head coaching positions for women were white, according to the report. The number of white head coaches in the three divisions did have slight decreases, but they remain the overwhelming majority.

"It's hard to believe that in 2022, 51 years after the passage of Title IX, for example, that only 40% of women's teams across all three divisions are coached by women and 50% of the assistant coaches of women's teams are women all these years later,” Lapchick said. “[The] men's basketball coach record for hiring Black men is worse than it was 19 years ago. And our football coaching record for people of color is worse than it was in 2010."

The report’s findings are not surprising, said Dr. Marvin T. Chiles, an assistant professor of African American history at Old Dominion University, who has been working on a book about Black athletic leadership at the high school and collegiate levels.

“There are points of improvement. There are other points that are not improving,” Chiles said. “But the fact remains that, ever since integration took place in college athletics by and large, the major question has been: should there be more non-white coaches coaching athletes who are not white? The report pretty much shows that this issue has not gone anywhere.”

He said that the TIDES report card signaled institutional bias and that institutions are not recruiting enough people of color in coaching positions for there to be parity.

"It's been talked about ad nauseum in sports media for years on end,” Chiles said. “In order for this young football/basketball player to have been appealing to you, many of them come from urban areas where they're coached by Black men and women. Many of them come from those environments. Well, this player was such a good product and came from a system that works so well that you're investing in them for the next four to five years for them to come in, earn a degree, and to represent your university in the field of play in an honorable manner.

“Well, if these people groom them to get there, why aren't they good enough to groom them while they're there?" he added.

College athletics did receive an "A+" for its NCAA diversity initiatives for leadership, administrators, and student athletes. Chiles said that this push might be a reaction to realizing the severity of such disparities.

"It's a good thing the NCAA is taking seriously the initiatives they're doing. Many of them are creating pipelines to try to groom minority coaching and administrative candidates," Chiles said. "When an institution realizes that they need to keep up with the times, that is always a good thing,” he added.





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