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Report Finds College Sports Leaders Lacking Diversity

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There is a lack of diversity in college sports, according to a report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

The 2019 Division I FBS Leadership College Racial and Gender Report begins with “white men still dominate the positions of leadership in college sport.”

TIDES, which is located at the University of Central Florida, gave college athletics an overall grade of “D” for race and gender, breaking that down into an “F” for gender hiring and a “C” for racial hiring. The report cited a “drastic underrepresentation of women and people of color in campus leadership positions.”

“The lack of representation of women and people of color has been a consistent issue within the arena of college sport,” Richard Lapchick, the director of TIDES and principal author of the report, said. “The dominance of white men at the top has actually increased. … The representation of people of color holding a chancellor or president position decreased from last year’s report. There was also a slight decrease of women.

“The consistently low grades recorded in 2019 reflect the stagnation of growth of diversity by FBS leadership, and the continued inequity in sport."

The report examined the chancellors, presidents, athletic directors, faculty athletic representatives and conference commissions across the 130 institutions that participate in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Overall, white people held 337 of the 400 campus leadership positions reported in this study.

Of those 130 universities, white people held 88.5 percent of the chancellor and president positions, 80.8 percent of the athletic director positions and 83.6 percent of the faculty athletic representative positions. White men make up 77.7 percent of chancellors and presidents, 76.2 percent of athletic directors and 52.9 percent of faculty athletic representatives.

Those numbers contrast with the athletes on the field, as 59.9 percent of football players are people of color.

“I challenge the leadership at all colleges and universities to mirror the heterogeneous makeup of their students and student-athletes,” Lapchick said. “The people in these leadership positions hold a responsibility to adequately represent those who they lead. Unfortunately for collegiate sports, specifically the FBS institutions, the overrepresentation of white men has contributed to the lack of opportunities for women and people of color.”

"It is imperative that we hold ourselves accountable," Nicholas Clark, a former player and the first African-American appointed chair of the NCAA Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee, said, according to an ESPN column by Lapchick. "Our leadership in 2019 is not reflective of the student-athlete population at our Division I FBS institutions. … "We must educate ourselves as an association to be experts on these topics and fully commit and be ready to implement diversity and inclusion amongst our presidents, athletic directors, faculty athletic representatives and conference commissioners.”

The study found several steps in the right direction. Keith Gill became the first African-American commissioner of an FBS conference when he was named the Sun Belt Conference commissioner in March. That number grew when Kevin Warren was named the future Big Ten Conference commissioner in June.

The NCAA adopted the Pledge and Commitment to Promoting Diversity and Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics in 2016, with 871 schools and 102 conferences signing the pledge.

"The diversity pledge that universities have signed onto is just a small, first step. It has to be followed by action on the part of the FBS conferences," Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and current co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, said, according to Lapchick’s ESPN column. "The TIDES study shows a dearth of institutional commitment to diversity.”

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