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Study: Improving Diversity In Coaching Hirings 'Not A Priority' For College Baseball

An annual diversity and ethics report released Wednesday afternoon took pointed aim at college baseball’s lack of improvement when it comes to hiring people of color for head coaching positions.

TIDES, a diversity and ethics institute based out of the University of Central Florida, published its 2019 Racial and Gender Report Card Wednesday, which grades both racial and gender NCAA hiring practices.

Across all sports, the NCAA showed slight improvements in both categories, the report stated.

But when specifically examining hiring practices in college baseball? TIDES says the sport falls short.

“Collegiate baseball has shown repeatedly that improving representation from a coaching standpoint is not a priority,” the report states.

According to TIDES, 94.6 percent of all college baseball head coaches across Divisions I, II and III are white. That data does not include coaches at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

There were just 20 minority head coaches (7.1 percent) at the Division I level outside of HBCUs, a .1 percent decrease from the studies’ 2018 findings. Those figures have remained stagnant since the study began tracking coaching data in 2010.

The numbers weren’t much more encouraging for assistant coach positions -- often thought of as a stepping-stone job to a potential head coaching gig. Just 3 percent of all Division I assistants are hispanic/latino, and 1.9 percent are black, per the report, which includes some director of operations positions.

A little more than 21 percent of Division I college baseball players are minorities. Even by that standard, minorities are underrepresented in coaching.

“When you see those numbers for athletic directors, associate athletic directors across all three divisions, head coaches of men’s teams, head coaches of women’s teams – those are the positions you tend to look at most in terms of leadership positions in college athletics,” Richard Lapchick, the report's lead author and institute director told the Associated Press.

“The whiteness of those positions is striking and has remained striking ... I mean, it’s better than it was when we started doing it. But it’s not overwhelmingly better.”

This isn’t a new issue facing the sport. Prior to last season, there were just four minority head coaches among the 61 “Power 5” schools. Just one, Northwestern’s Spencer Allen, is black. The American Baseball Coaches Association formed a diversity committee in 2018, chaired by Kerrick Jackson, Southern’s head coach. The committee is working toward helping to produce meaningful change, but it faces a difficult challenge, especially in the current environment of college athletics.

It is an unusual summer for the coaching carousel considering the financial uncertainty facing athletic departments amid the coronavirus pandemic. But, so far, five schools have made coaching changes and none has hired a minority.

The pandemic has also affected assistant and volunteer coaches, especially at the lower levels of college baseball. Full-time assistant coaches have in some cases been furloughed or taken salary cuts, while volunteer coaches, whose positions are typically funded by camps and clinics, have been hit even harder. Camps and clinics are not allowed during recruiting dead periods, which the NCAA has been in since mid-March and which will last until at least July 31. The current situation also puts into sharper focus last year’s defeat of proposed NCAA legislation that would have converted the volunteer assistant role into a full-time, salaried job.

And while the sport remains stagnant concerning diverse change in the dugout, there do appear to be minor gains made on the field.

Per the report, 78.9 percent of Division I baseball players were white, the lowest number since it began tracking such data annually in 1996 and a decrease of 1 percent compared to last year. 4.1 percent of all Division I baseball players in 2018-19 are black, a .4 percent increase from 2018 and the highest percentage since 2006-07.

Still, black participation in college baseball remains dwarfed from its peak in the 1980s.


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