The Strength of an Athletic Program Goes Beyond The Scoreboard
By Tariq LeFever, Opinion Contributor
Historically, college athletic departments have been dominated by white administrators who have perpetuated a culture of exclusion. The lack of diversity in these positions is not due to a lack of qualified candidates of color, but rather systemic barriers that prevent them from
advancing. These barriers include implicit bias in the hiring process, limited networking
opportunities and a lack of mentorship programs. Additionally, many college athletic
departments prioritize winning, over the victories that come with diversity and inclusion. This can lead to a homogenous leadership team that fails to represent the diverse student body. It is imperative that colleges make a concerted effort to address these issues and actively recruit people of color into administrative positions within their athletic departments. This will not only help create a more inclusive environment for student athletes, but also bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table that can ultimately benefit the entire institution.
According to recent studies conducted by the NCAA, there is a significant lack of diversity in athletic administration at Division I institutions, particularly in decision-making positions and head coaching roles for black individuals. The study shows that at Division I institutions, 95.3% of athletic directors are white and only 2.9% are black. This lack of diversity impacts the experiences of black athletes and the overall culture of sports. Despite initiatives to promote diversity, the lack of progress in this area is concerning, and more action is needed from institutions to ensure equal opportunities for all athletes. Black athletes in big-time college sports have expressed their concerns about this and the absence of diversity in athletic administration can have a negative impact on their experiences.
In response to these concerns, the NCAA has implemented new initiatives. These initiatives include the establishment of the Office of Inclusion as well as the Diversity and Inclusion social media campaign and forum. However, these alone are not enough to address the systemic issues at play. It is up to individual institutions to take action to ensure that they are providing equal opportunities for all athletes, regardless of their race or ethnicity. This includes colleges located in urban areas prioritizing community involvement in their athletic decision-making processes. It is crucial to recognize that the experiences of community leaders are invaluable in shaping the athletic culture of the school. They bring a unique perspective that others may lack, and their involvement can help ensure that decisions are made with the best interest of both the athletes and the community in mind. Additionally, community leaders can serve as role models for the athletes, providing guidance and mentorship that extends beyond the athletic realm.
It is clear that there is a pressing need for change in athletic administration at Division I
institutions. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all
athletes are able to have a positive and inclusive experience in college sports. It is up to us as a society to demand change and work towards a more diverse and inclusive future for all athletes, especially those in college.