Diversity in the University of Minnesota’s athletics administration is still a four-letter word: None.
After Richard Lapchick’s annual “College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card” came out in July, we asked Gopher AD Norwood Teague to grade his department’s diversity, since Lapchick overall gave college sport a B. Teague couldn’t bring himself to do so.
You really can’t blame him, though, especially since after he took over last July he hasn’t hired any Blacks in any key decision-making roles.
Lapchick pointed out that college sport has a lower racial hiring grade than pro sports. “The greatest number of career prospects are in college sport rather than professional sport because of the number of jobs available,” he said. “That makes it even more important for us to create expanded opportunities in college sport for women and people of color.”
However, the following three-pronged fact sheet shows painfully clear just how un-diverse U of M athletics administration really is, which actually falls White (oops — right) in line with college sport overall:
1) Whites hold at least 85 percent of all men’s and women’s head coaching positions in all three college divisions. Minnesota has no Black head coaches.
2) Whites make up over 87 percent of Division I associate athletic directors. Minnesota has just one Black associate director out of eight.
3) Sports information directors (SIDs) are overwhelmingly White (nearly 95 percent). Since I began covering Gopher sports in 1987, there have been two fulltime SIDs and one intern who have been Black.
Lapchick warns that the analyzed numbers “are a snapshot in time,” but apparently diversity in college sport is frozen in time. Especially at Minnesota, where since Teague’s arrival last year Bierman has gotten still more White if that could be possible.
Teague’s first major hiring decision came this past spring when he fired the school’s only Black head coach and replaced him with someone White. Then, at least twice this summer, I’ve heard Teague say publicly how things now are much better in men’s basketball, falsely comparing someone who hasn’t won a national championship, yet alone a game as Gopher coach, with his predecessor, who had done so.
“After we made the decision to hire him, he’s shown me that he really knows how to build a program,” bragged Teague.
This Black man’s ears stood at full attention as he slipped in this ditty that a White coach with less experience can do more than a more experienced Black coach. This is cultural conditioning that White people are superior and Black people are inferior, and the manifestation of this is that Blacks are underestimated, undervalued and marginized.
It is this type of cultural conditioning that permeates college sport from coast to coast. It is this type of cultural conditioning that has decades-deep roots at the U of M.
However, when oft-asked about diversity, Teague acts like I’m his Ginger Rogers and he’s Fred Astaire as he dances around the subject. “[I want to] have more color in our department,” said the Gopher AD. “It’s important to me, and I feel good about that.”
Yet his lack of racial hirings to date speaks volumes more than his hollow words. Unless Minnesota gets drop-dead serious about improving workforce diversity in their athletics administration and stops parroting sound bytes in an effort to placate this reporter, the school will continue to earn dismally failing grades.
To read Lapchick’s entire 2012 “College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card,” go to www.tidesport.org.
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