“Those who run college sports don’t look much like those who play college sports”

Thought-provoking piece by Washington Post columnist/author Sally Jenkins on the disparity between NCAA administrators and the athletes they serve:

The NCAA just spent a week floating airy platitudes about inclusiveness versus discrimination at the NCAA Tournament in full shameless view of the public, over a potentially discriminatory Indiana law. Yet no one in the candor-flinching organization so much as skipped a shrimp buffet or returned a gift bag in a fit of social conscience over the fact that 87.7 percent of its Division I athletic directors are white. Or that 90 percent of them are men. Meantime, just 22 percent of college basketball coaches are black, while the hiring of female coaches is plummeting across all sports…….

In NCAA Division I football, 58.7 percent of the players are people of color. In basketball, 57.6 percent are African American, while another 3.5 are two or more races. As for women, they make up. 43.4 percent of athletes across all NCAA divisions.

Yet 88 percent of presidents of the 126 universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision are white. The coaches they hire are 88.9 percent white. Their NCAA faculty representatives are 93 percent white. And almost 100 percent of their Division I conference commissioners, 29 of 30, are white. What’s clear is that hosts of qualified people are not even getting interviews for jobs. Ex-athletes are the pool from which you could reasonably expect new hire to come from, yet they’re only fractionally represented.


These hiring practices are a longtime trend, and they’re only trending worse, not better. You would think that with the growth of women’s sports, especially basketball, it would create jobs for women. Instead, the number of women coaches is declining in all sports. Forty years after Title IX females hold only 38 percent of the head jobs in Division I women’s sports, and also less than half of assistant coaching jobs. Lapchick, who has been collecting NCAA diversity data since the 1980s, calls this “the single most striking and disturbing set of statistics” he has seen. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Why is it important to mandate broader candidate pools? Because the NCAA is choking off talent rather than encouraging it and that’s not a true meritocracy. Female athletes need to see women coaches and athletic directors, “so they can see themselves doing it,” says former Texas coach Jody Conradt. As the saying goes, it’s hard to be what you don’t see.