Editor’s Note: Richard Lapchick is a human rights activist, racial equality pioneer, sports expert, scholar and author.
With all the reports of the NFL stalling — with three black head coaches for the third year in a row — it’s important to look at other areas where this has been the case as well. In college sports, the number of head coaches who were people of color at FBS schools declined in 2022. I reported owners as the biggest barrier to hiring more black head coaches in the NFL.
I have no doubt that a similar situation exists at the college level. The leadership positions in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) that make the hiring calls – presidents/chancellors and athletic directors, are overwhelmingly white and male. Faculty Athletic Representatives (FAR) also play a role.
And just like in the NFL, where nearly 70% are players of color, 65.7% of college football student-athletes at the FBS level are players of color.
American colleges and universities continue to show a huge underrepresentation of women and people of color in campus leadership positions. All this was highlighted in the “2022 D1 FBS Leadership College Race and Gender Review: Lack of Diversity in Collegiate Athletic Leadership Continues“, a study published Thursday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.
While there have been notable improvements in hiring practices for people of color in 2022 — more presidents of color, up from 18.5% to 23.1%, and athletic directors of color, up 18.5% to 23.1% — positions of influence within FBS schools received a VS for racial hiring practices and a F for gender-responsive hiring practices. This resulted in a combined set D+ grade. The race score decreased by 5.2% to 74.4% from 2021 to 2022. Still an F, the gender score improved by 6.9 percentage points to 59.9%, higher than last year’s score of 53.0%. The overall score increased from 66.3% in 2021 to 67.2% in 2022.
These statistics say it all. Discouragingly, in American higher education, 78.6% of chancellors and presidents, 77.1% of athletic directors, 83.6% of faculty athletic representatives, and 80.0% of conference commissioners were white. . That’s over 80% of all those key positions. Additionally, 60.3% of chancellors and presidents, 72.5% of athletic directors, 50.0% of faculty athletic representatives, and 70.0% of conference commissioners were white males. The disproportion between campus leadership and student-athletes must remain a major concern at FBS institutions. Whites held 79.9% of the 402 leadership positions on campus.
“The newsletter has again presented an in-depth and eye-opening examination of the state of diversity in college sports,” the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Founder and President of Rainbow PUSH, told me after reviewing the newsletter. “The college world has always served our society as a think tank and pioneer of progress and change, but the NCAA and its hiring practices have failed to exemplify positive movement in the athletic landscape.
“The NCAA cannot avoid this embarrassing trend and lack of progress in racial and gender hiring practices. Leadership off the field should be much more representative of the game on the field, and I have always advocated that the NCAA must create an intentional and inclusive plan to make this a genuine priority Each conference must also intentionally embrace fairness and equality and not continue to pass opportunities within the “old boys network” and missing, omitting or ignoring qualified women and minorities for various positions.
Jackson said the Rainbow PUSH Sports platform has committed to even more diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives this season, with programs ongoing throughout 2023 under the director’s leadership. athlete Joseph Bryant who will create visibility, promote equality and maximize opportunity.
The underrepresentation of women as president or chancellor, or as athletic director, is also a lingering stain on the college sports record. Female athletic directors at FBS schools make up only 7.7% of the total, and the score in this category remained a low. F. Men still represent an overwhelming majority of athletic director positions with a total of 117 of the 131 DI FBS schools.
The newsletter also included football head and assistant coaches and football student-athletes. FBS management positions are the most influential in hiring the head football coach. Thus, it is no surprise that the lack of coaches of color as head football coaches in FBS schools is an ongoing problem. Football head coaches of color actually decreased by one, from 23 in 2021 to 22 in 2022. Black head coaches remained at 13 while the number of Latino head coaches decreased by one to five in 2022.
At the start of the 2022 season, 83.2% of head coaches were white, which was actually a 0.9 percentage point increase from the 2021 report card. There were 22 (16.8%) coaches of color in 2022, a decrease of 2.4 percentage points from 2021. Black men make up the most coaches of color, accounting for 9.9%, followed by Latinos at 3.8%. With Black and Latino student-athletes representing 52.2% of all Division I FBS student-athletes, there is plenty of room to increase the hiring of head coaches of color to reduce population differences. DI FBS student-athletes and head coaches. .
“For all the bluster coming from college athletics following the so-called racial reckoning in 2020, including the addition of ADID [athletic diversity and inclusion designee] positions in most FBS departments, the data in this report lays bare the reality of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the company,” said Jeffrey O’Brien, CEO of the Institute for Sport & Social Justice at the University of Central Florida. “Data that supports a ‘C’ for racial hiring and an ‘F’ for gender-based hiring should sound alarm bells for landscape leaders. The real question is whether that will be the case. The bill is overdue to reimagine what it means to be diverse, equitable and inclusive because that is not it.”
Leaders must reflect who they lead. Unfortunately, in college sports, especially at FBS institutions, the overrepresentation of white men in key leadership positions translates into a lack of opportunities for women and people of color. While the number of women and people of color in leadership positions at FBS institutions is slowly improving, it should be noted that the numbers do not reflect the student-athlete body.
To provide the best experience and services to student-athletes, those in leadership positions must be able to identify with student-athletes. The representation of campus leadership positions among Division I FBS colleges and universities clearly does not match that of student-athletes at those institutions. For collegiate athletics to thrive and grow, the leaders of these institutions must embrace diversity and inclusion at a higher level.
Making diversity, equity and inclusion a campus priority is not the same as implementing it in real time. I challenge the leaders of all colleges and universities to reflect the diversity of their students and student-athletes in a more equitable manner for all leadership positions.
Richard E. Lapchick is the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, is the author of 17 books and the annual report on race and gender and is the president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice. He was a regular commentator for ESPN.com on diversity issues in sports. Follow him on Twitter @richardlapchick and on Facebook.