A study by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found 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.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Wednesday’s report card 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. However, the gender-hiring grade remained an F from 2019's report to the latest.
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 percent of faculty athletics representatives in 2019 to 40.3 percent this year. There was also a jump for people of color serving in president or chancellor positions, increasing from 11.5 percent in 2019 to 17.7 percent this year.
Those 2020 numbers were both all-time highs since the study began in 2007, the Sentinel reported, while gender scores also improved for presidents and chancellors (17.7 percent) and athletics directors (9.2 percent).
Overall, women held 22.8 percent of campus leadership positions in the study, up from 19.3 percent last year. And people of color held 17.5 percent of those positions. up from 15 percent.
“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, white men and women held 327 of 399 campus leadership positions (82 percent) 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, though the pledge isn’t binding and is not subject to sanction over failure to improve.
“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,” Derrick Gragg — an NCAA senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement — said in a statement. “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.”