League has good racial, gender diversity

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The WNBA again is America's best pro sports league at achieving racial and gender diversity, from front offices down to the court, according to a study released Thursday.

The A grade given by Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport came after he examined data from the 2004 season. The WNBA matched the
grade it received in the 2001 Racial and Gender Report Card.

Among men's leagues, the NBA ranked the highest in diversity with an overall grade of B-plus. The NBA and WNBA both earned As
for race; the WNBA also got an A for gender while its older brother
was given a B.

In Lapchick's studies, an A for race is achieved if 24 percent
of the positions were held by racial minorities; to earn the same
grade for gender, 40 percent of the employees must be women.

Two-thirds of the WNBA's players were minorities, while there
were five of the league's 13 head coaches are women and four are
black. Trudi Lacey of the Charlotte Sting was the only black woman coaching a team; she also serves as the Sting's general manager.

In the WNBA league offices, 90 percent of the employees were
women, while 40 percent were minorities. The league president in
2004 was Val Ackerman, who has been replaced by another woman.
Donna Orender is the only female president of a major pro sports
league, as Ackerman was.

The WNBA employed three black general managers; at 23 percent, this was the best mark among the six leagues studied by Lapchick. There were eight female GMs.

Along with the WNBA and NBA, the Racial and Gender Report Card
also studies the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NHL, Major League
Soccer and college athletics departments.