The prominence of African-American athletes in collegiate basketball has been reported on often enough, with a staggering 61 percent of Black players in those ranks, according to the most recent report from University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Still, the drop in Division I Black basketball coaches from 25 to 21 percent suggests that minority strides in collegiate sports is moving slower than expected.
At the leadership level beyond coaching, Whites dominate the positions of conference commissioners with not one minority sitting at the table. For athletic directors, people of color represent nearly 11 percent of those positions. Eighteen coaches of color led Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools and out of 266 offensive coordinators, only 33 were persons of color. Aside from HBCU Division I schools, all 30 conference commissioners were White, including 5 women.
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The numbers tend to trend in favor of Black student-athlete increases, but a perception lingers that people of color are still not welcomed and as beloved as White coaches. In the popular Southeastern Conference (SEC), however, the major Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference will have more minority coaches than any of the other groups in men’s basketball, with 8 coaches of color versus 6 Whites. This contrasts greatly with the stigma southern schools have held in regards to the hiring of minorities in the past.
With so many student-athletes of color who do not go on to the pro-ranks, it would seem that the numbers of minorities should spike favorably, although jobs are becoming harder to obtain with the advent of high-profile professional firms involved in the hiring of coaches and other school leadership.
In addition, the old-fashioned approach of being a player transitioning to the bench is looked down upon somewhat, raising concerns that talented leaders of tomorrow are being overlooked because of their lack of connection with the upper echelon of collegiate sports. Yes, there is more diversity than ever but this trend just begs a simple question: