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Six members of Congress seek update on NCAA pledge to address diversity

October 6, 2017
In The News

Six members of Congress said Tuesday they want an update from NCAA president Mark Emmert on the progress of a 2016 "pledge" to diversify the college coaching and administrative hiring pools.

Last year the NCAA asked college presidents to sign a pledge to address college athletics' diversity challenges.

"Consistent with our mission and values, our institution, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, pledges to specifically commit to establishing initiatives for achieving ethnic and racial diversity, gender equity and inclusion, with a focus and emphasis on hiring practices in intercollegiate athletics, to reflect the diversity of our membership and our nation," the pledge stated.

To date, per the NCAA's website, hundreds of Division I presidents, along with all the commissioners of Power 5 conferences, have signed the pledge.

"We support this effort, and we write today, a year after the introduction of that pledge, to ask about what progress has been made," said the letter to Emmert, which was signed by U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Cedric Richmond, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Earl Blumenauer, Frederica Wilson and Maxine Waters.

"We respectfully request that you provide us with an update about participation in the pledge and inform us about what further actions the NCAA is considering to improve diversity among coaches and athletic departments at its member institutions. We hope to see clear evidence that the NCAA's pledge is translating quickly to more diverse and inclusive athletic departments."

In 2009, Bonamici sponsored and helped pass legislation in Oregon, her home state, that now requires all public institutions in the state to interview a minority candidate for every head-coaching vacancy.

College sports received a C-plus for "racial hiring practices" and a C for "gender hiring practices" in the 2016 Racial and Gender Report Card -- the latest study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

In recent years, the National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, which worked with the representatives on the letter to Emmert, has promoted an NFL-like Rooney Rule to alter the college landscape. The NCAA's 2016 pledge followed those efforts and others.

"I applaud Bonamici and Richmond in their effort to address the ongoing racial and gender disparities in college coaching and among athletic directors," said diversity advocate Sam Sachs, the founder of the racial equity organization The No Hate Zone, which also worked with Bonamici on the Oregon legislation and Thursday's letter to Emmert.