Multiple U.S. representatives signed a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert requesting a progress report on a 2016 pledge by NCAA member schools to increase hiring diversity.

Oregon congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici wrote the letter to Emmert in late October, asking for an update on the NCAA’s diversity pledge. Emmert responded with a letter of his own, which was acquired by SB Nation, essentially saying that the NCAA doesn’t have the authority to force diversity in hiring on its member schools.   

As you certainly can appreciate, 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. Each college or university operates independently using its own human resources policies, state legislative requirements, and local ordinances to determine their campus-wide personnel decisions, including athletic department personnel within that institution. Even when an employee at one of our member schools has been found to have violated NCAA rules through the infractions process, none of the penalties imposed by the NCAA would suggest termination of employment. Additionally, the NCAA cannot make hiring decisions on behalf of member schools; nor could it mandate who is interviewed for available positions. Universities and colleges retain their autonomy and authority in this regard.

Emmert did cite the pledge and a new “Office of Inclusion” as examples of how the organization has promoted diversity, noting that urgency will be given to “strategies that develop a culture that values diversity as a means of organizational excellence and provides service to higher education and student-athletes.”

From ABU. of Wisconsin Athletics Hires Director of Diversity and Inclusion

At the beginning of the 2017 football season, there were just 14 black head coaches out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs. There are also only 14 black athletic directors. 

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.