A diversity study finds increasing numbers of women and people of color in leadership positions at the Football Bowl Subdivision level of college athletics for 2020, though not enough to overcome a significant “underrepresentation."
Wednesday’s report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) issued slightly improved grades of a B- for racial hiring and a D-plus overall compared to the 2019 edition, which had issued a C for racial hiring and a D overall.
The gender-hiring grade in both reports was an F.
The study examined positions at 130 FBS-level schools such as university presidents or chancellors, athletics directors, faculty athletics directors and conference commissioners. It relied on data as recent as November and submitted by the NCAA.
Institute director and lead report author Richard Lapchick emphasized gains such as women going from making up 35.7% of faculty athletics representatives in 2019 to 40.3% this year. There was also a jump for people of color serving in president or chancellor positions, increasing from 11.5% in 2019 to 17.7% this year.
Those 2020 numbers were both all-time highs since the study began in 2007, while gender scores also improved for presidents and chancellors (17.7%) and athletics directors (9.2%).
Overall, women held 22.8% of campus leadership positions in the study, up from 19.3% last year. And people of color held 17.5% of those positions. up from 15%.
“I would describe it as marginal,” Lapchick said of the improvements in an interview with The Associated Press. “If you take a raw number and say how many more presidents there or how many more women athletic directors there are -- I’m glad there was movement there, but you can see the percentages are so very small.
“The reality of the report since we started doing it quite a while back has been that it’s been white leadership and overwhelmingly white male leadership, especially in the chancellor and President, and athletic director positions.”
To Lapchick’s point, whites held 327 of 399 campus leadership positions (82%) in the study.
The study notes the NCAA’s 2016 adoption of a pledge by schools and conferences to promote diversity and gender equity in college athletics. It has been signed by 878 schools and 102 conferences as of September, though the report notes it isn’t binding and includes no sanctions for failing to improve diversity hiring.
Lapchick has long supported hiring rules at the college level modeled after the NFL's Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview diverse candidates for openings.
In a statement, Derrick Gragg – an NCAA senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement – said the NCAA’s national office has increased its racial and gender representation at senior levels while creating programs to assist schools with diversifying their own administrations.
“In the last year, our country has realized that there are systematic disparities and more inclusive improvements that must be made in organizational leadership, operations and in understanding,” Gragg said. “Athletics is no different, especially when you look at the low numbers around gender hiring and minority head football coaches in FBS.
“The low numbers and lack of opportunities require immediate attention. This is extremely disappointing considering the current era in which there is a heightened awareness regarding social justice, fairness and equity.”
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