Mark Emmert tells Congress NCAA cannot 'mandate' diversity in hiring

The NCAA is committed to diversity but cannot force schools to hire more women and minorities, Mark Emmert said in a letter addressed to U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a member of Congress who'd expressed concerns about a lack of inclusivity in collegiate sports.

In October, six members of Congress, including Bonamici, asked Emmert to address the status of a pledge the NCAA had asked schools to sign last year in support of diversifying their hiring pools when jobs become available.

"We support this effort, and we write today, a year after the introduction of that pledge, to ask about what progress has been made," the six members of Congress -- U.S. Reps. Bonamici, Cedric Richmond, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Earl Blumenauer, Frederica Wilson and Maxine Waters -- said in their letter to Emmert.

In the 2016 Racial and Gender Report Card, the latest study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, college sports received a C-plus for "racial hiring practices" and a C for "gender hiring practices."

In his letter to Bonamici, Emmert said the NCAA will continue to promote initiatives that foster diversity, adding that more than 800 schools had signed the pledge. But the NCAA, he said, cannot go beyond that in its push to diversify a predominately white and male coaching and administrative pool in collegiate sports.

"Additionally, the NCAA cannot make hiring decisions on behalf of member schools, nor could it mandate who is interviewed for available positions," Emmert said in his letter to Bonamici, which was obtained by ESPN.com. "Universities and colleges retain their autonomy and authority in this regard. We remain vigilant and concerned about representational diversity of ethnic minorities and women in coaching and athletics administration."