College sports failing the grade on diverse hiring

AnotherViewsquareWhile March Madness mainly focuses on the court, college basketball coaches also are fired and hired during this time as well. Although it’s across race and gender, too often it’s Blacks who get axed — at least seven Black coaches have been fired last month alone.

However, rarely are Blacks promoted by talking heads and writers as “the next best hire.”

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) as a result rightly focuses on such things.

“It was especially bad news that the opportunities for people of color declined significantly,” says TIDES Director Richard Lapchick in his March 4 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card (CSRGRC), who gave the NCAA and its member schools a C+ for racial hiring.

Black Division I basketball coaches have been declining from an all-time high of 25.2 percent in 2005-06 to 22 percent in 2014. Black women’s basketball head coaches are nearly 11 percent of all head coaches.

Minnesota Assistant Coach Nikki Dawkins
Minnesota Assistant Coach Nikki Dawkins

“There’s definitely some qualified women to coach this game,” notes Minnesota Assistant Coach Nikki Dawkins. “All I know is you got to give them a chance.”

A second breakdown shows White men’s teams head coaches (91 percent) at all three divisions up five percent, while Blacks accordingly drop in all three divisions, staying in single-digit percentages from 8.2 percent (Div. I), 4.3 percent (Div. II) and 4.8 percent (Div. III). White head coaches of women’s teams increased three percent at all three divisions, while Blacks either went down or stayed constant from 2012-13 to 2013-14.

“It was extremely discouraging that this year’s CSRGRC showed further deep overall declines,” states Lapchick.

Among those who hire coaches, the athletics directors, Whites still overwhelmingly are in all divisions, 87 percent, 91 percent and 94 percent respectively, while eight percent, three percent and four percent respectively are Black. That number went down by one after Syracuse’s Daryl Gross earlier this month took the sword for the mess the longtime men’s basketball coach did for the program.

“College sport still had the lowest grade for racial hiring practices … among all of the college and professional sports covered by the respective Racial and Gender Report Cards,” says Lapchick, who calls for a mandatory rule that there be a diverse candidate pool for every Division I men’s and women’s head coaching job and senior administrative positions.

Minnesota AD Norwood Teague pledges, “You got to be committed to it, and we are.”

For the record, U-M’s athletics administration senior staff historically has been virtually all White, with a speck of color here and there over the nearly 30 years this columnist have tracked the school’s diversity hiring.

“The greatest number of career prospects are in college sport rather than professional sport because of the number of jobs available. That makes it even more important for us to create expanded opportunities in college sport for women and people of color,” concludes Lapchick.

More disappearing diversity

This columnist all but predicted this as early as a year ago: With Stabresa McDaniel and Tory Jacobs asking for transfers, and Rangie Bessard who left earlier this season, this leaves the U-M’s women basketball team with only two Black players on its returning roster. This makes a total of five players recruited and signed by former coach Pam Borton who have left since Marlene Stollings took charge last April.

In speaking last week with a longtime U booster, I reiterated that players usually choose a college because of the coach. So when that coach is fired, the player should be allowed to transfer without sitting out the mandatory one year.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.