Likelihood slim for a Black U of M athletic director
First of three parts
Has diversity growth in college sport reached a dead end? It would appear so, judging from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s (TIDES) latest April 7 report card, in which racial hiring seems to be perennially stuck in a rut going nowhere. Why the lack of progress? This multi-part series tries to shed some light on that question.
This week: highlights of the TIDES report.
How lily White is college sport leadership? It’s measured both in high percentages for Whites and low numbers for Blacks and other people of color. Richard Lapchick’s annual college sport racial and gender report card, released earlier this month, included such adjectives and verbs as “significant . . . concern,” “decreased,” “some improvement,” Whites “dominate” and Blacks are “underrepresented” throughout his 60-plus-page report.
In addition, we also examined seven years of data (2009-15) that Lapchick obtained from the NCAA in which it appears that the diversity needle — whether pointing to coaches or senior administrators — has moved during that time as little as a harmless pebble disturbs a backwoods stream. “Opportunities for coaches of color continued to be a significant area of concern in all (NCAA) divisions,” noted Lapchick.
- A 0.3 percent increase among Black men’s and women’s head basketball coaches (from 22 percent to 22.3 percent).
- Black women only make up 11 percent of all Division I head coaches — combined with Black males (4.1 percent), it’s 15 percent, a 0.8 percent increase.
- Black head football coaches are up from 14 to 16.
- Black athletic directors in Division I are up 0.6 percent, 0.6 percent in Division II, and 0.2 percent in Division III
While the number of White coaches and administrators, according to Lapchick “decreased slightly,” he points out that the “overwhelming percentages” remain in the high 80s, low 90s across all three divisions.
Locally, the state’s only Division I school, the University of Minnesota, is now searching for a new athletic director. Beth Goetz has been serving as interim AD since last August and has said she will seek the job on a permanent basis. University President Eric Kaler announced last month that he appointed a 16-person search committee, six of whom are Black, and also hired a New Jersey-based search firm for $150,000.
“We want to attract the absolutely best candidates for this important job,” said Kaler. “I am seeking an athletics director with experience, with knowledge of this community and this sports market, with an ability to build bridges — on and off campus.” We should take that comment, along with Lapchick’s diversity numbers, to suggest that hiring a Black individual for this job is virtually out of the question, especially when the president uses culturally conditioned terms such as “absolutely best.”
As a result, we wonder just how diverse the candidates’ pool will be or if we will see at least one Black person brought in to do the interview shuffle with no intention of hiring them. Why is Kaler once again relying on an out-of-town search firm to find a new AD “with knowledge of the community”? Obviously Kaler didn’t learn from the last time he used another big-time search firm that recommended he hire former Gophers AD Norwood Teague, who resigned in disgrace last year after sexual harassment charges against him became public.
Longtime Gopher men’s basketball season ticket holder Archie Givens told the MSR that he is concerned that Kaler “may rush through” in hiring a new athletics director to make his stated June deadline “and not think it through. The process failed the first time.
“I’m concerned about that,” said Givens, a member of the last AD search committee formed by Kaler. “I really am.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.