The NCAA believes in the values of diversity and inclusion. Although it has made progress in increasing the diversity of the membership and generating opportunities within intercollegiate athletics for individuals of all backgrounds, the Association’s leadership recognizes there is more work to be done. The diversity and inclusion staff at the national office aims to centralize efforts concerning diversity and inclusion, serve as a point of contact for related concerns and assist the membership in developing initiatives that will lead to increased diversity and inclusion throughout intercollegiate athletics.
Behind the Blue Disk: Minority head football coaches.
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Leaders push to diversify college football sidelines: Participants at a session to further diversify the collegiate football coaching ranks pledged to continue a strategic assault that has led to 30 minority head coaches being hired at non-HBCU institutions in the last three years.
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Coaching coaches: Professional development programs, conducted by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and the NCAA staff, have been making inroads into a longstanding problem for the Association – the lack of color at the top of the football coaching pyramid.
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A numbers game for minority football head coaches: Four individuals who participated in NCAA programming and are at various stages in their careers shared their thoughts on moving up the ladder.
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By Gary Brown
Updated research on the composition of NCAA member institutions’ administrative and coaching staffs since 1995 shows not only dramatic increases in opportunities but also a much broader demographic distribution of those opportunities.
The NCAA’s Race and Gender Demographics Report for 2009-10 shows significant increases in the number of administrative personnel in the last 15 years, primarily because of increases in NCAA membership but also because of expanding staffs at individual schools to reflect the growth in athletics participation overall (more than 430,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA sports now compared to about 330,000 in 1995).
Those increases appear to be good news for women and minorities. For example, there were 142 more athletics directors in 2009-10 than in 1995-96. But of that increase, women gained 58 positions and ethnic minority males 27. White males gained 57.
Similar distributions are seen elsewhere. With associate ADs, for example, the category grew by 1,275 positions over the last 15 years, with 418 of those spots going to women and 108 to ethnic minority males. Assistant ADs gained 1,099 positions, with 481 going to women and minorities.
That gradual broadening of the distribution has helped diversify athletics departments. While white males still represent the predominant demographic in many individual categories, the percentage gaps aren’t quite as dramatic. In 1995-96 (the first year the NCAA began collecting such data), white males comprised 76.4 percent of the athletics directors at NCAA schools. In 2009-10, that percentage dropped to 71.6. Those figures include historically black institutions.
With historically black institutions excluded, the percentage of white male ADs went from 80.2 percent in 1995-96 to 75.4 percent in 2009-10. Associate AD percentages for white males went up slightly (from 57.7 to 59.2), but the assistant AD percentages also have leveled out somewhat, from 62.2 in 1995-96 to 59.8 in 2009-10.
NCAA Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin, who serves as the Association’s chief inclusion officer, said the broader distribution for women and minorities likely reflects the NCAA’s diversity-education efforts over the past 15 years and programming designed to increase the candidate pool for women and ethnic minority males in leadership roles. But he also cautioned against reading too much into the numbers.
“There are two important things to celebrate through this report,” Franklin said. “One is just the sheer number of positions added over the last 15 years, and the other of course is that institutions appear to be paying more attention to not only the method by which they fill these positions but also to diversifying the hiring itself.
“Now, while those are good things, the growth has been relatively deliberate and the overall percentages in leadership categories remain imbalanced. But I believe the NCAA’s educational and programming emphasis will continue to make a difference as we move forward.”
The programming has perhaps been most effective in football. As of April, there are more minority head coaches now (41, not including historically black institutions) than at any other time in college football history. Twelve minority hires have been made in the Football Bowl Subdivision alone. Thirty minority head coaches have been hired at non-historically black institutions in all divisions in the last three years.
Much of that increase can be attributed to a heightened focus on the dearth of minority coaches in football from the late NCAA President Myles Brand, who championed diversity and inclusion throughout his seven-year tenure. His successor, Mark Emmert, has continued the effort. In April, Emmert and Franklin hosted the third in a series of meetings with leaders in diversity to make sure the Association maintains progress.
Participants at that session praised the NCAA’s football-specific programming. Eighteen of the hires in the last three years are graduates of various coaching academies the NCAA conducts for assistant coaches of color who aspire to obtain the top post.
“Our programming in this area certainly has led to successful outcomes,” Franklin said. “And that success figures to feed on itself in the future as more people begin realizing that the academies can directly affect their career paths.”
For head coaches in basketball (excluding those at historically black institutions), the number of minority head coaches went from 111 to 149 on the men’s side and from 84 to 122 on the women’s.
The gender split among coaches of women’s basketball teams went from 348 male/542 female in 1995-96 to 420 male/583 female in 2009-10, which continues a trend for more male coaches being hired to lead women’s teams.
The 2009-10 report shows just minimal gains for Blacks in the coaching ranks since 1995-96. The most significant are in Division I, where the percentage of black head coaches for men’s teams (historically black institutions excluded) has increased from 4.9 percent to 7.1 percent. In the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball, the increase has been from 12.1 to 15 percent.
The largest jump for black head coaches is in Division I women’s basketball, where the percentage has gone from 10.1 percent in 1995-96 to 13.5 percent in 2009-10.
Blacks have realized steadier gains in the assistant coaching ranks. In 1995-96, Blacks represented 18 percent of the assistant coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball. In 2009-10, though, Blacks represented 21.3 percent of the assistants in football and men’s basketball and 24.1 percent of the assistants in women’s basketball.
In Division I revenue sports, the jumps were more dramatic, from 22 to 29.8 percent in football and men’s basketball and from 24.4 to 34.6 percent in women’s basketball.
“The more diversified field in the assistant coaching ranks, particularly in revenue sports, also likely reflects the NCAA’s efforts to get more people of color into the pipeline,” Franklin said. “Since the assistant level often makes up the majority of the candidate pool for head coaches, that’s often the best way for diversity to ‘trickle up’ to the head coaching level.”
The Race and Gender Demographics Report is compiled annually under the auspices of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and the Committee on Women’s Athletics. Those groups also oversee a number of professional-development programs that identify and encourage women and minorities to advance in athletics administrative and coaching positions.