The NCAA lists "diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators" as one of its core values and "seeks to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds."
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida released the 2018 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card (CSRGRC) on Wednesday. The report takes a deep look into the racial and gender hiring practices and student-athlete representation at the NCAA and its member institutions. The report card provides a baseline for research and discussion on the NCAA's efforts to achieve this core value.
The 2018 report card results showed slight improvement when compared to previous years, but the progress remains underwhelming. College sport received a B-minus for racial hiring practices, a C-plus for gender hiring practices and an overall grade of a C-plus.
Bernice Sandler, who died in January at age 90, was a respected civil rights activist who was best known for her vision that led to the passage of Title IX, a monumental but only partially fulfilled law. The Civil Rights Act, and the subsequent Title VI legislation, failed to prohibit discrimination based upon sex at federally funded private and public entities. Title IX filled this gap and has dramatically increased opportunities for women in education, most notably in athletics. According to the Women's Sport Foundation Report, Title IX and Race in Intercollegiate Sport, female college athletes of color have experienced a dramatic increase in NCAA sports participation opportunities and a substantial increase in scholarship assistance. The reports states that athletic participation opportunities increased 955 percent for female athletes of color from 1971 to 2000 (2,137 to 22,541 participants respectively). The report also pointed out that female athletes of color received approximately $82 million in scholarship assistance in 1999 compared to less than $100,000 in 1971.
The report card took a deeper look into the racial and gender hiring practices and athlete representation at the NCAA and its member institutions. The report also looks at university leadership positions, including university presidents, athletic directors, associate and assistant athletic directors, head coaches and assistant coaches of men's and women's teams, the faculty athletics representatives, senior female administrators, sports information directors, and other professional administrators at NCAA member institutions. It also looked at the NCAA headquarters, conference commissioners and the student-athletes.
In pro sports, the league offices generally have better records than their teams with respect to gender and racial hiring practices. The NCAA is following this trend by having the number of women at the senior management level above 30 percent for the second straight year. The NCAA's managing directors and directors are more than 47 percent women, while the professional administration staff increased from 50.6 percent to 58.7 percent women. This is the largest percentage of women at any office that has been reported in any of the 2018 report cards.
The NCAA also made progress with hiring people of color. The vice presidents and above increased from 25 percent to 29.4 percent. Managing directors and directors stayed the same at 19.1 percent as it was in 2017, but increased at the professional administration level by 3.4 percent from 19.1 percent in 2017 to 22.5 percent in 2018. It is important that the NCAA continues to increase the number of people of color on its professional administration staff so they can enter the pipeline to be promoted and be successful at the senior management levels.
Unfortunately, this positive trend is not replicated at the conference office level nor at NCAA member institutions. I find it very concerning that 28 of the 30 Division I conference commissioners are white. This is also reflected in the leadership at Division I, II, and III athletic departments, where 84 percent, 90 percent and 93 percent of the athletics directors are white. The pipeline that leads into the athletic director position does not bode well for developing and promoting enough people of color to reflect the nation's demographics. The Divisions I, II and III associate athletic directors are 85 percent, 88 percent and 92 percent white.
Coaches are the leaders within the NCAA that arguably have the most influence on student-athletes, the leaders of the next generation. Unfortunately, the coaching staff is far from reflecting the diversity of student-athletes. How can we recruit 33.7 percent student-athletes of color and 43.9 percent female student-athletes but only 13.7 percent of the head coaches of Division I men's teams are people of color? The head coaches of Division I women's teams are only 15.1 percent people of color, and only 40.1 percent are women.
In some cases, the numbers for race and gender did improve from 2017, but only by the slimmest of margins. This is true for Division I, where assistant coaches of color for men's teams increased to 29.7 percent and assistant coaches of color for women's teams is 27.5 percent. I wish I could say I am confident that we will see this rich pool of assistant coaches of color start to progress up the chain to be successful Division I head coaches.
The worst statistics in the report for me is that 59 percent of the women's teams are coached by a man -- 47 years after the passage of Title IX. Our universities and colleges could be the nation's model for diversity and inclusion. NCAA and university leadership should embrace the power of sport to lead our country in diversity and inclusion initiatives. In 2016, the NCAA encouraged member colleges and universities to sign a pledge that commits their schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports hiring practices. As of this month, the NCAA reported that 77 percent of all schools and 73 percent of all conferences have signed this pledge. Unfortunately, this pledge has no teeth.
Delise S. O'Meally, executive director of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, said, "The NCAA and our collegiate model of sport is viewed with significant respect by our international university sport colleagues around the world. The dual career model of combining athletics and academics is a standard to which many countries aspire. Over the past several decades, our education-based sport program has opened the doors of opportunity for a wide cross-section of student-athletes. However these doors continue to be closed, and in some areas seemingly nailed shut, for aspiring female and minority sport administrators and leaders. American collegiate sport stands tall for its consistent focus on the value of education and the long term benefit of sport within the academic enterprise, but continues to fall short in its commitment to diversity and inclusion in sport leadership."
In response to a 2017 letter from multiple U.S. House representatives, NCAA president Mark Emmert said "the NCAA has never had any jurisdiction or authority with respect to a member school's personnel decisions (i.e. hiring, discipline, firing), even within an athletic department."
I believe Emmert is truly committed to diversity and inclusion and thus to produce better than a C-plus average. I hope he will further use his substantial influence over the behavior of the NCAA's member institutions. The numbers of women and people of color as leaders in college sport has barely changed since the pledge was made. We need more firepower.
I continue to be an advocate for the NFL's Rooney Rule and I continue to encourage the NCAA to develop the Eddie Robinson Rule and the Judy Sweet Rule. Both are designed to improve and diversify the racial and gender hiring practices in college sports. Incorporating these rules would put the NCAA at the forefront of diversity and inclusion and become a model for the sports industry, and even corporate America. If the NCAA remains steadfast in opposing such change, then individual conferences can take the lead.
The Eddie Robinson Rule would initiate opportunity for a diverse pool of candidates for every men's and women's head-coaching openings in Division I. On the women's teams, this would include making it mandatory that two-thirds of the candidates interviewed be women.
The Judy Sweet Rule would require a diverse pool of candidates, including women and people of color, for all senior administrative positions at the NCAA headquarters and in Division I college athletic departments. At the college level, this would include the athletic director, associate athletic directors, assistant athletic directors, the senior woman administrator and the sports information director.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, shared with me that, "Even with the progress made this year with small improvements in hiring, the NCAA cannot avoid the enormous imbalance whereby the majority of athletes on the field are people of color, yet there is a serious lack of representation within coaching, administration or other areas of sports management. As my friend Dr. Lapchick suggests, the NCAA should secure a more aggressive, intentional and inclusionary plan, similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL, that would allow qualified minority candidates to compete for and be accepted into more roles of leadership in higher education. The NCAA must look to be a trendsetter in areas of inclusion, as they represent the hope of the future and the institutions where the evolution of dreams are nurtured and manifested. The patterns they establish at the collegiate level can have an enormous impact on the pipelines to the professional ranks, and the amount of opportunities which can then be brought forth to help level the playing field for women and minority candidates. Our Rainbow PUSH Sports division stands with Dr. Lapchick in his continued quest to build a foundation for fairness and equality, and we look forward to the opportunity to partner in the process of creating more pathways of inclusion to keep hope alive in sports on and off the field."
Colleges and universities should be compelled to present all recruited student-athletes a racial and gender breakdown of the coaches and staff of the athletic department as well the graduation rates of the student-athletes in the sport that would include the graduation rates for white and African-American student-athletes.
The United Nations, consisting of 193 member states, has recognized the power of sport by recently issuing a resolution stating that we must "recognize that sports, the arts and physical activity have the power to change perceptions, prejudices and behaviors, as well as to inspire people, break down racial and political barriers, combat discrimination and defuse conflict social issues". The world is now looking to the sports industry for leadership, to be a moral compass, on tough social issues around the world. Human trafficking, racism, domestic violence, performance enhancing drug use, gambling, and gender and racial equity are all global issues that can be affected by the power of sport.
It is frightening to think about the number of youth that were not provided the opportunity to excel in athletics due to their race or gender. We must build and cultivate a global culture that allows everyone, regardless of race or culture, to pursue their dreams. I firmly believe that colleges and universities should set the standard for gender and racial equity. After all, they are the epicenter of research and learning and have considerable influence on primary educational systems.
David Zimmerman made significant contributions to this column.
Richard E. Lapchick is the chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program at the University of Central Florida. Lapchick also directs UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, is the author of 17 books and the annual Racial and Gender Report Card, and is the president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice. He has been a regular commentator for ESPN.com on issues of diversity in sport. Follow him on Twitter @richardlapchick and on Facebook.