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Study cites lack of diversity in FBS

11/8/2011 - College Football

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A new study released Tuesday showed that the racial and gender composition of people in key leadership positions at schools that compete in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision remains decisively white and male.

The report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida said that 90 percent of FBS presidents are white, along with 88 percent of athletic directors. Men comprise 81 and 95 percent of those positions, respectively.

Diversity is also severely lacking among the leadership at the various FBS conferences, where 100 percent of conference commissioners are both white and male.

Noting more than 40 years of involvement in diversity issues in college athletics, Richard Lapchick -- the study's principal author -- called it "an embarrassment to me personally" that colleges are lagging behind many professional sports leagues.

"It's always a problem no matter where you are," Lapchick said. "They are dealing with the same issues in corporate America, where in challenging times diversity is usually the thing that gets put on the sidelines."

The biggest strides were made on the sidelines of the playing field.

This academic year did bring an all-time high of 19 head football coaches of color, including 17 African-Americans. Of the 19 head coaches, six were new hires for 2011, not counting Mike Haywood, who was dismissed at Pittsburgh two weeks after being hired.

Still, that nearly matches a record high of seven new coaches of color that were hired before the 2010 season. But Lapchick said that just focusing on those gains is dangerous and that college football runs the risk of seeing those numbers drop off like they did in college basketball.

A 2010 report that looked at that sport showed that over a four-year period the percentage of Division I African-American coaches fell from an all-time high of 25 percent in 2005-06 down to 21 percent.

"I think it happened because people weren't paying attention because of the high importance we place on college football," Lapchick said. "There still needs to be pressure to get movement."

And with so much attention being paid to conference realignment in college football, it's even more paramount, he said.

What is even more disconcerting about the number of head coaches of color in football, Lapchick said, is that two of the key feeder positions for those jobs still feature little diversity. Only 11.9 percent of offensive and defensive coordinators are African-American and only 15.4 percent are people of color.

But he also noted that the NCAA continues to offer diversity management training to any school that seeks it. Lapchick's institute helps run that program.

"To start to achieve changes in the numbers, you have to start with the attitudes," he said. "Our hope is that if and when the numbers change, we will start to already notice that attitude shift."