Study: Top FBS Leaders Remain White, Male - Higher Education
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Study: Top FBS Leaders Remain White, Male

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by Kyle Hightower, Associated Press


ORLANDO, Fla.—A new study by the University of Central Florida’s Diversity and Ethics in Sport released on Thursday shows that the top leadership positions at Football Bowl Subdivision schools and conferences remain mostly white and male.

The study examined the race and gender of conference commissioners and campus leaders, including college and university presidents, athletic directors and faculty athletic representatives for all 125 FBS institutions. It also included head football coaches, assistant coaches and student-athletes for the football teams.

Looking at numbers for the 2013-14 academic year, it found that 88.8 percent of university presidents, 84.8 percent of athletic directors and 100 percent of conference commissioners are white. White males accounted for 75.2 percent, 78.4 percent and 100 percent of those positions, respectively,

Study author Richard Lapchick called those numbers “unacceptable” and said part of the problem with getting more diversity throughout the system falls on the lack of penalties or sanctions for institutions that aren’t more diverse.

“There are individual schools that do it. The Division I athletics director organization has suggested it, but there is no policy or sanction for schools bringing in all white guys,” he said. “I think that would make the difference as it did with academic progress and graduation rates. Once coaches knew they could lose their jobs because of it, those rates started to skyrocket.”

Lapchick said it’s troubling there were only 15 head football coaches of color in the 2013 season, down from 18 last year. The all-time high of 19 was set during the 2011-12 academic year.

Lapchick said he continues the advocate for an “Eddie Robinson Rule,” patterned after the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which would mandate at least one minority candidate be interviewed for all open coaching and key administration positions.

The study did show a slight increase in the percentage of women of color in key leadership jobs. The largest is at athletic director, which is increased from 12.5 percent in 2012 to 15.2 percent.

However, Lapchick said there isn’t a true feeder system at most schools to put more women and racial minorities in a position to attain a top leadership role.

He said key feeder jobs to be targeted include senior woman administrator, faculty athletic representative and associate athletic director. Currently all three positions are more than 90 percent white.

“I think that it goes back to the same question, there’s no sanctions for them not to do it, so they continue to do business the way they’ve always done it,” Lapchick said. “I think it’s more of the ‘old boys’ network’ than it is a racial thing… So the pipeline isn’t full with potential candidates. I think colleges have to be more creative with how they look for key jobs like these and make sure they have a diverse pool of candidates.”

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