NCAA Executive Vice President Katrice Albert led a discussion on diversity and inclusion last week at the SBJ Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.
As Katrice noted, college sports are making strides in gender diversity in senior administrative roles, but not so much in ethnic diversity. The numbers are poor: FBS’s overall grade from the recent Racial and Gender report issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport is a D – a slight improvement from last year but still far behind other sports leagues such as the NBA. The underrepresentation of minority administrators in FBS leadership is also reflected on the coaching level.
It is striking that these positions that wield the most power and influence, particularly in the sports of football and basketball, do not reflect the student-athlete population they serve. Sixty-percent of football student-athletes are players of color but only 12-percent of coaches are African-American.
This is a critical issue for our ADs, and many of our institutions are taking steps to address the problem by hiring diverse senior staff and creating a pipeline to the AD chair. Here at LEAD1, we offer 10 minority scholarships each year from the John McLendon Foundation for the LEAD1 Mentoring Institute.
It goes without saying that informal networks matter when institutions are filling leadership positions. Whether we realize it or not, we may be unintentionally excluding good candidates simply because they aren’t from the same sphere of influence.
We may not be able to implement a Rooney Rule in college sports like the NFL uses to increase diversity because of the myriad of state hiring regulations that govern our schools, but we can do our part to lead courageously and hire more women and minorities to leadership positions.