How Diverse are the Upper Administrations of Athletic Departments?

November 21st, 2016 | by Francis Giknis
How Diverse are the Upper Administrations of Athletic Departments?
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This past week MLB commissioner Rob Manfred discussed the state of diversity in the management ranks of baseball. Citing the lack of any outside minority candidates being hired for open GM or managerial positions this past offseason, the MLB removed Korn Ferry as the official search firm of record.

As this is an issue of note in professional sports, it led me to wonder how the top-revenue programs in the NCAA are doing in terms of racial and gender diversity. Considering the 25 schools that generated the most in 2014-2015, I thought it would be informative to look at how diverse the leadership at the top is.

To start, for the 25 biggest athletic departments in the nation, 8% of the ADs are women; both are white, non-Hispanic. Aside from its face value, this is number takes on greater significance when considered in comparison to the gender breakdown for student-athletes at these schools.  To illustrate, for the NCAA at-large, 44% of student-athletes are women, a far cry from their representation in leadership.

In terms of a racial breakdown among the 23 male athletic directors, almost 22% are either African-American (3) or Hispanic (2). Again, this number is vastly disparate compared to the student-athlete population in the NCAA.


Furthermore, the idea that choosing a small sample-size like the top 25 earning programs distorts the figures is inaccurate. The 2011-2012 release of the TIDES Racial and Gender Report Card, published by the University of Central Florida, found that across all three divisions of the NCAA, whites held the overwhelming percentage of positions as athletics directors. In fact, the smaller sampling of just the top 25 programs skews diverse in representation, as 89% of D1 ADs were white per the 2012 report (versus the 80% seen in the top 25). Interestingly, like when looking at the top 25, 8% of D1 ADs are women, stated the 2012 TIDES Report Card.

The rationale behind considering the 25 highest-earning programs in this brief analysis is because those schools prove to be some of the most powerful in the NCAA because of their budgets and thus can help start trends and are essential to maintain momentum of movement. This makes diversification in this stratum essential if the athletic leadership will come to accurately represent the diversity of the student-athletes it leads.

About Contributor Francis Giknis
Francis Giknis joins College AD as a contributor after seven years of teaching and coaching throughout the east coast. Prior to writing for College AD, Francis earned an English degree from the College of William and Mary and his masters at Columbia University. Raised in a cable television-free household, he remembers binge-watching ESPN while on vacations away from home, much to the chagrin of his parents.

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