Where’s the diversity in college sport leadership?

AnotherViewsquareThe Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) Director Richard Lapchick once again notes in his latest study that key leadership at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools and conferences “was even more White and male” this fall than last fall. Nearly 90 percent of college presidents, almost 87 percent of college athletic directors, and all 10 FBS conference commissioners are White.

Richard Lapchick
Richard Lapchick

Lapchick’s report released on November 10 showed out of 128 athletics directors, only 12 are Black men. Only nine are women, all White, including current Minnesota Interim AD Beth Goetz. There are no Black, Asian, Latina or Native American females heading up college athletics.

“What America do these statistics reflect?” asks Lapchick. What it does reflect is a White man’s world, save for a sprinkle of color in big-time college sport.

Beth Goetz
Beth Goetz

Goetz was promoted from deputy to interim Gophers AD in August. Since then, she’s hired a new football coach, shoveled some ceremonial dirt for the proposed Gopher Athletes Village land behind her offices, and brought some stability, albeit temporarily, during a tempestuous time as the school deals with a federal discrimination complaint filed in 2014.

The Gopher athletic department historically has been White-led, even when it was separated by gender, other than on two occasions in the 1990s.

McKinley Boston, when he was in charge, led Minnesota’s first major facilities uplift, including a new Mariucci Arena and a long-overdue Williams Arena facelift inside and out. He later was dismissed in the wake of the Gopher basketball academic scandal by then-president Mark Yudof.

Boston’s successor, Yudof’s chief of staff Tonya Moten Brown, sadly had no clue athletically, and “U” athletics floundered as a result. The school hasn’t had anyone Black in charge of Gopher sports ever since.

We have nothing against Goetz, but if the university doesn’t conduct an inclusive hiring process and gives her the job simply because it’s expedient — as well as to satisfy a local woman mainstream columnist’s recent suggestions for gender fairness — nothing changes in terms of the school’s White count.

Minnesota over the years has demonstrated a two-fer approach to diversity hiring in athletics — two Black athletic directors, two Black men’s basketball coaches (actually three if you count interim coach Jimmy Williams’ brief tenure in between Jim Dutcher and Clem Haskins), a couple of Black associate or assistant ADs, and one Black woman basketball coach. If you are keeping a Gopherland diversity count, that’s not even double figures.

This shows diversity at Minnesota is a fleeting notion rather than standard operating procedure. But as Lapchick points out, the U of M isn’t alone.

As a result, when all but 13 of the nation’s top school heads are White men, eight out of 10 times the person the college or university president will hire for athletics director will be a White man.

The lack of diversity is clearer than Johnny Nash’s song. The message is even more so — only Whites, and on those rare occasions, White females are competent to run a big-time college sport department. It’s always debatable if a Black AD is given the same latitude, shelf life, and full autonomy as their White counterparts when making decisions without constantly questioning eyes.

Whether or not Goetz can do the job is hard to evaluate, but if she’s hired to satisfy local feminists or a local female writer, it doesn’t earn our diversity satisfaction.


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