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NBA earns high marks in diversity study

ORLANDO, Fla. -- NBA team front offices had four black presidents and CEOs this season -- more than all other U.S. major professional sports combined -- earning the league high marks for the second straight year in a diversity study released Wednesday.

The league has received top grades among men's leagues in all 12 previous studies from the University of Central Florida's Institute
for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, and for the second straight year
got an overall B+.

The president/CEOs were Terdema Ussery with the Dallas Mavericks, the Charlotte Bobcats' Ed Tapscott, Billy King with the Philadelphia 76ers and Steve Mills with the New York Knicks and WNBA's New York Liberty.

Because Mills is president of all team operations at Madison Square Garden he is also president/CEO of the New York Rangers. Aside from that, no other major pro sport has a single minority president/CEO, the study said.

The NBA also recorded its best-ever scores for race among professional jobs in the NBA league office (33 percent minorities);
among senior and professional team administrators (20 percent and
26 percent, respectively); doctors and trainers (12 percent); and
broadcasters (26 percent), study author Richard Lapchick wrote.

Bobcats owner Robert Johnson remained the only black team majority owner in all men's pro sports.

Women held 41 percent of the professional jobs in the league office -- down two percentage points but still higher than any other
men's professional league in any previous report. Opportunities for
racial minorities in the league office increased by four percentage
points to 33 percent -- also higher than any UCF study on record.

Lapchick attributed the scores to diversity training the league instituted in 1997.

"As a result, the NBA has been uniquely compared to some of the
other sports to keep talented people who are people of color," he
said.

The league had 11 black coaches in the season, marking 37 percent of the total. That figure was down from 40 percent last year after a net loss of one black coach, but still among the highest percentages since the study began, Lapchick noted.

However, the league received an F for low numbers of female vice presidents, with 18 percent working at that level for the second straight year. Women had been making steady inroads at the VP level
since 1993-94, when they held only 3 percent, Lapchick wrote.

The NBA did not return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday.

Lapchick said racial and gender diversity report cards would be released in July for Major League Soccer and the WNBA and in August
for the NFL. The Major League Baseball study was released in April,
with the sport receiving an overall C+ in gender and racial diversity.