WNBA gets A-plus for diversity

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The WNBA remains the first-place league in race and gender diversity.

The league received a combined grade of A-plus in the annual report card released Thursday by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. It's the highest grade for any sport since 2004.

The WNBA tied its highest grade for gender with 97.5 points out of 100 (an A-plus), and scored 93.5 for race (an A).

"The Report Card asks, 'Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to score a basket and run the team?' " the report said. "Consistently, the answer for the WNBA is an emphatic 'yes' with the best record in professional sport."

The report said the WNBA remains the best employer overall for women and people of color in sport. In 2010, the league gained ground for people of color as general managers, assistant coaches and senior administrators, the report said, while women made gains as head coaches, CEO-presidents and senior administrators.

For the second consecutive year, the WNBA had the highest number of A's and the fewest grades below an A in all categories in the history of the report.

The number of female head coaches increased 12 percentage points to 58 percent. There were four African-American head coaches at the start of the 2010 season, a decrease of 5 percentage points from the previous year.

Donna Orender remains the only woman president of a professional sports league, but there were no people of color considered majority WNBA owners, the report said.

The WNBA received A's for race in the league office, head and assistant coaches, general managers, team senior administration and player opportunities. It received A's for gender in the league office, head and assistant coaches, general managers, team senior administration and team professional administration.

The WNBA only had one category below an A for gender and race (team vice presidents) and one other for race in team professional positions, where it received a B-plus.

In the 2010 season, 16 percent of players were white and 69 percent were African-American, the report said. There was one Latina, and there were no Asians. Fourteen percent of the players were international, an increase of 2 percentage points from the 2009 season. The number of white players decreased by 4 percentage points.