Second of three parts
Has diversity growth in college sports 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: A successful Black woman in the center of big-time athletics administration
Blacks are the only people of color currently in NCAA senior leadership, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).
Anucha Browne, one of four NCAA female vice presidents and one of four Black vice presidents, was named in 2012 vice-president of women’s basketball championships. “Anucha brings a wealth of experience to the NCAA and the membership,” noted Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade at the time of Browne’s hiring. Before that, she was senior associate athletic director at the University of Buffalo.
Her vast experience over the years includes four years as a senior vice president for the NBA’s New York Knicks (2002-06) and 11 years at IBM, where her many held positions included overseeing the company’s sports related marketing efforts at three Olympics (1996, 1998 and 2000).
“Anucha…brings a unique and valuable skill set to this important position,” added NCAA Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances Mark Lewis of Browne, whose office sets “the strategic direction” of Division I, II and III women’s basketball championships.
All three divisions earlier this month held their title games for the first time at the Women’s Final Four “in the same city and same building,” stated Browne in an NCAA.org article.
It indeed was a rare but refreshing sight in Indianapolis to see a Black woman in charge, virtually at the epicenter of women’s basketball’s crowning event. Browne sat at midcourt, front row in between the two team benches during games. Otherwise she was in constant motion, ensuring an effective and efficiently-ran operation.
There were events all around, including a Salt-N-Pepa concert, a fashion show, a youth event attended by 2,000 kids, another 800 young participants ages 3-8 at a basketball clinic, and a five-day “Advancing Women Summit” for over 500 women professionals.
“My job is to make dreams come true,” said Browne to the MSR during a break in her hectic breakneck routine during the Final Four. Earlier before our interview, Browne received the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative’s Trailbrazer Award “for her work and commitment to the Indianapolis community.”
“In every position, I have been in service to the community,” said Browne. “I was humbled enough to receive [the] award.” Sports Business Journal once named her on their “40 under 40” list as an up-and-coming sports executive.
TIDES each year looks at staffing as far as diversity is concerned. Blacks and other people of color as executives, managing director and director positions in college sport increased 0.8 percent, from 18.1 percent in 2014 to 18.9 percent in 2015, but the percentage of people of color overall in professional administration positions decreased in this same time span from 20.2 percent in 2014 to 19.2 percent in 2015. Blacks in these positions also decreased from 15.8 percent to 14.2 percent.
Browne is keenly aware of her unique position not only to lead but to inspire as well. “I take full responsibility for the importance of lifting as you rise,” she pointed out.
Diversity nonetheless remains a concern, but Browne contends that it shouldn’t, if done correctly.
“Women’s basketball is the most diverse sport as a NCAA championship sport,” said Browne, herself a highly decorated basketball player at Northwestern in the 1980s, where she earned her communications degree. She later earned a master’s degree in marketing communications at Florida State.
Therefore seeing more Black females such as Browne in charge should be commonplace not a rare occurrence.
“I do take great pride in making sure that I am involved and engaged in what I consider our future. [Black] kids need to see people like me in this space so that they can aspire,” she concluded.
Information from NCAA.org and the 2015 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card also was used in this report.
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.