Athletic Depts. Lose Diversity

Study shows decrease in number of opportunities for women and minorities

While there is ethnic diversity on the playing field of many sports, women and minorities have fewer opportunities to join athletic departments at the professional-entry level than they did last year, according to a report published by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

From coaching to support staff, opportunities for women to join the staffs of college athletic departments dropped from 31.5 percent to 30.8 percent, while opportunities for people of color decreased from 10.9 to 10.6 percent, according to the Institute’s 2004 “Racial and Gender Report Card: College Sports” study.

The study collected data from the NCAA, not individual colleges, so information about Harvard or other Ivy League universities was not available, wrote the study’s author, Richard E. Lapchick, in an e-mail.

But data provided by Chuck Sullivan, director of athletic communications at Harvard, shows that 93 percent the benefits-eligible employees in Harvard’s department of athletics are white.

Sullivan said his department makes an effort to recruit diverse applicants.

“Our athletics department does take proactive steps to recruit and hire diversely across gender and ethnic lines,” he said, noting that Harvard advertises open positions on outlets including the Black Coaches Association.

“We have two fulltime human-resources staff members in our department, and they evaluate each position as it becomes open to determine the best ways to attract as diverse an applicant pool as possible,” Sullivan wrote in an e-mail.

Of the 162 benefits-eligible employees of Harvard’s department of athletics, both part-time and fulltime, 66 percent are male and 34 percent are female.

Of the 162 employees—not including volunteers or interns—51 are white, four are African-American, five are Asian, one is Hispanic, and one declined to identify ethnicity.

The UCF study said that, due to the large number of jobs available in college athletic departments, “in terms of expanding opportunities in sport for women and people of color, the greatest prospects exist in college sport rather than at the professional sport level.”

The study also found that, excluding historically black colleges and universities, whites held 94 percent or more of athletic director jobs in Division I, II, and III.

All 28 Division I conference commissioners were white, and only three were women.

Even in women’s athletics, the majority of coaches were men.

In all Division I sports combined, white males athletes made up 62 percent and white female athletes made up 71 percent.

The percentage of African-American male student athletes in Division I basketball in 2003-2004 was the highest in more than a decade, coming in at 58.2 percent.

“We really have a long way to go in college sports,” said Lapchick. “The primary thing that needs to be done is to open up the hiring process to bring in a diverse pool of candidates.”

The Institute’s report is available at