'B' Grades for Diversity in College Sports

December 14, 2006

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is, on balance, achieving both gender and racial diversity on the playing fields of its members and in its own offices. But white males continue to dominate athletics director and conference commissioner positions, according to an annual report on college athletics. 

"College sport" as a whole received a 'B-" grade for racial diversity and a 'B' grade for gender diversity in the 2005 Racial and Gender Report Card for College Sports, published by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. A year ago, the report's authors gave out B- and B+ grades, respectively, for these categories.

The report looked at data, primarily from the 2004-5 academic year, to measure areas of "improvement, stagnation and regression" in the racial and gender composition of college sports teams, coaching staffs and athletics departments, among other groups.    

Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and chair of the sports business management program at Central Florida, said college sports -- and particularly Division I -- is generally making strides toward being open to students of all races and genders. Hispanic and Asian women reached all-time highs for participation in all Division I sports combined, while the percentage of white female athletes in all Division I sports dropped slightly, from 70.6 to 70.5, the report says.

Division I men's basketball continues to attract more black coaches and players than any other sport. The report shows that roughly 25 percent of the sport's coaches are black males, an all-time high. More than 50 percent of men's basketball players are black, although that number decreased for the first time in five years.

"We don't recognize for the most part whether a black basketball coach was hired or fired, because the sport is so far along," Lapchick said.

But Lapchick called "disturbing" the dearth of senior decision makers in college athletics (athletics directors, coaches, senior administrators, etc.) who are people of color or women.

The report said that coaching opportunities are generally "poor" for minorities, and particularly for Hispanics. In all three of the NCAA's divisions for both men's and women's sports, about 90 percent of all coaches are white. Only five of 119 Division I-A head football coaches are black, up two from a year ago. (A sixth, Randy Shannon, has since been hired by the University of Miami.)

Lapchick said the "most startling" statistic in the report is that in Division III, there are more women coaching men's teams than black coaches running men's teams.

On the whole, coaching opportunities are still lacking for women, the report shows. “More than three decades after the passage of Title IX, women coaching women’s teams still do not represent the majority of coaches in the women’s game,” the report says. 

The report also notes that in Division I-A, 94 percent of university presidents were white, 3 percent were black and nearly 3 percent were Latino. More than 90 percent of athletics directors are white in all three divisions. All Division I-A conference commissioners were white men, and all Division I conference commissioners were white, according to the report.

Here is a breakdown of the grades given out in the report:

Category Race Gender
College sports
over all
B- B
NCAA headquarters A- A
Division I conference commissioners F F
Athletes A/A+ A
Division I men's
head coaches
B- n/a
Division I women's
head coaches
C A-
Division I-A football head coaches F n/a
Division I men's basketball head coaches A n/a
Division I women's
basketball head coaches
B A+
Men's sports
assistant coaches
Women's sports
assistant coaches
Division I athletics
Division I presidents F F
Division I associate
and assistant AD's
C+ C-
Senior women's  administrators B/B+ A+
Faculty athletics

Lapchick said that "there has clearly been progress under [NCAA president] Myles Brand's leadership" to diversify college athletics. He said the Black Coaches Association's hiring practices report card -- which began just for football but will soon expand to cover athletics directors and women's basketball coaches -- has helped shine a light on the issue of minority hiring.

The report notes that the NCAA has created a new vice president of diversity and inclusion position, and that representation of women and people of color at the top levels of NCAA headquarters increased this year.

Here's a look at some other key findings in the report:

  • Sixty-six percent of Division I athletes are white and 21 percent are black; the comparable breakdown for Division II is 71 percent white and 18 percent black, and for Division III, 84 percent white and 7 percent black.
  • Black women make up 15 percent of Division I female athletes, 12 percent of all Division II female athletes and 5 percent of all Division III female athletes.
  • Fourty-four percent of Division I women's basketball players are black. 
  • In all three divisions, more than 90 percent of faculty athletics representatives are white.

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