Richard Lapchick is hoping the NCAA will nudge colleges toward more diversity in athletics after finding only skimpy evidence of progress in a report released yesterday.
This year's Racial and Gender Report Card for College Sport, issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, shows minimal advances by gender and regression by race.
Overall, the institute, directed by Lapchick, gave colleges a grade of B, the same assessment as last year, putting them behind the WNBA's A and the B-plus given the NBA. By gender, schools improved from B to B-plus, but moved back in race from B to a B-minus that topped only Major League Soccer's C-plus.
"The big concern is that the colleges, instead of going forward, have had some significant erosion," Lapchick said. The lowest marks were in areas in which decisions are made on the most prominent hires, usually football. "They remained white or got whiter."
The study (which excluded historically black colleges) found that, as of last December, 88.5 percent of athletic directors were white men and 94.9 percent of university presidents were white. Not surprisingly, the colleges received F grades for race and gender in both areas.
At the head coaching level, the percentage of minorities in women's sports overall continued to rise, as it has for African-Americans in Division I men's basketball (23.2). At the same time, the rate of minority hiring in football and women's basketball remained poor.
"F stands for failure," Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's incoming vice president for diversity and inclusion, said of the football situation. "It's something we have to work with the member institutions on, especially at the level of people who hire."
Lapchick suggested to NCAA president Myles Brand that the organization adopt a policy similar to the NFL's "Rooney Rule" - named by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney -- which requires each team to interview at least one minority candidate.
"There would be resistance," Lapchick said. But that was the case with the NFL and Major League Baseball, another professional organization with minority hiring issues, before there was a change of heart.
"Most of those people in the leagues have felt that these changes have made the leagues better."