03 Feb 2003 Project 21 Press Release: Black Caps and Gowns a Higher Priority Than Black Coaches
A new report taking issue with the fact that the leadership and football coaching staffs of NCAA Division 1A colleges are overwhelmingly white is being criticized by members of the black leadership network Project 21.
Project 21 members say the report is little more than a bean-counting exercise that will create unnecessary racial tension. They suggest the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (IDES), which issued the report, should instead seek ways to raise the graduation rates of black student-athletes.
The IDES report quantifies race and gender in positions including institution presidents, athletic directors, faculty athletic representatives and football coaches. Although the report indicates slight increases in minority representation in almost all areas, Institute director Richard Lapchick complained, “The study shows that the vast majority of the most powerful people in college sports are still white.”
“All this report has established is that Richard Lapchick can count. I think the real problem is whether today’s student-athletes are more focused on turning pro and getting paid instead of getting a quality education that would prepare them for the future,” said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. “This report decries an old boys network that perpetuates the hiring of whites to coaching jobs and implies affirmative action may be necessary to diversify the ranks. Rather than creating a mountain out of a molehill, how about concentrating on the NCAA’s pitiful minority graduation rates and change the current mindset of ‘just bring home the trophy,’ which is truly hurting and not helping these athletes.”
Project 21 members point out the bigger problem facing NCAA 1A colleges is the graduation rates of student-athletes. According to the most recent statistics posted on the NCAA’s web site, the graduation rate for black football players is 55 percent. This is the same as the overall black male student-athlete graduation rate, which is far below the 62 percent graduation rate for all student-athletes and 64 percent for all students. In a December 2005 report issued by IDES, Lapchick says the graduation rate for black football players in the NCAA’s 1A division is 47 percent.
While some past IDES reports are critical of these poor graduation rates, the majority of IDES studies found on their web site are “Racial and Gender Report Cards” that judge professional and college institutions by the number of minorities in leadership positions. Project 21 members suggest IDES would better serve the sporting community by focusing on how schools can increase student-athlete graduation rates.
“I believe it is more important to ensure student-athletes graduate than have an ethnically-diverse coaching staff,” aid Project 21 member Ak’bar Shabazz. “It would be nice to see more minority leadership in athletics, but I believe that greater emphasis needs to be put on the education of players.”
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at https://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.