Coaches of color found ‘dramatically underrepresented’
It took a while, but the University of Minnesota Tucker Center’s annual report card on women’s college coaches now includes race in its analysis. “Thank you for always pushing us to collect race data,” said Tucker Center Director Nicole LaVoi in an MSR phone interview shortly after the 2020-21 report card was released earlier this month.
Texas Southern University Head Volleyball Coach Gabrielle Floyd graces this year’s cover of the report that documents the percentage of women in all coaching positions for women’s teams at NCAA Division I institutions. TSU is one of the nation’s largest historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and according to the report, over one-fourth (117 or 28.6%) of Black head coaches, both men, and women, are employed at HBCUs.
But overall, women coaches of color (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color or BIPoC) “are vastly underrepresented (7%) as head coaches of women teams,” the report noted.
Over 350 U.S. colleges and universities, 3,600-plus head coaches, and 32 Division I conferences were tracked:
- 42.7% are women HCs, up .04 percent from 2019-20
- 5.2% are Black females
- 16.1% are BIPOC female HCs
- The five major sports with BIPOC women HCs: basketball (73, 29.8%), volleyball (43, 17.6%), track and field (29, 11.8%), tennis (23, 9.4%) and softball (17, 6.9%)
- Bowling (35.3%) has the highest percentage of BIPOC head coaches
By conference, the SWAC is tops in BIPOC head coaches of women’s teams (71 of 78), while the Summit League is last (5 of 80).
The ACC leads the Power Five conferences (29 of 174) – Pac-12 (25 of 151), Big Ten (20 of 183), SEC (19 of 156) and Big 12 (14 of 99).
Ohio State leads the Big Ten (4 of 17) while Minnesota (1 of 14) is one of five schools (Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan) with one BIPOC coach, and three conference schools—Michigan State, Penn State, and Northwestern—have zero BIPOC coaches.
LaVoi said that HBCU BIPOC head coaches (108) is “almost a third of the sample of schools” surveyed. “So, we have work to do,” she reiterated.
This year’s report reaffirmed the importance of including race to better track hiring and retention trends. Another reason, LaVoi added: “The reason why that’s significant is that female athletes of color are rarely getting the same identity role model in their head coach, and that’s important for female athletic development, experience, and probably performance.”
Finally, LaVoi surmised, “We’re continuing to use the report card to create awareness and educate, and hold decision-makers accountable. There’s a lot of work to be done because we’re still not at 50% of women head coaches, and we certainly are dramatically underrepresented in coaches of color,” she concluded.
All reports, current, and past, are available at www.TuckerCenter.org.
The University of Minnesota has a NIL interim policy in place for its players, said Deputy Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator Julie Manning. “I think it’s quite equitable,” she told the MSR last week. “I think it depends entirely on each individual student-athlete, their desire, and their motivation.”
Manning pointed out that not all Gopher athletes will pursue NIL deals: “I do think there’s a significant number of student-athletes who will just pass, say ‘I need to stay focused on basketball or football or tennis or hockey or what it is, and I am not going to pursue name, image, and likeness,” she said.
“They’re having a wonderful college experience. I think it’ll be an opportunity for some to profit off their name, image, and likeness, which is a wonderful right to be able to do.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.