ST. PETERSBURG — In the three years since the Black Coaches and Administrators began monitoring the hiring of minority coaches in women's college basketball, the number of minorities hired has risen annually, prompting the organization to say at its annual convention Friday that the report card is making a difference.
Of the 18 Division I openings in the past year, five were filled by black women.
"By any standard of measurement, I'd say this year was a successful year," said Richard E. Lapchick, director of UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, who oversees the hiring report card programs for the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA).
"Eleven out of the 18 schools that were evaluated got A's for their efforts, 14 of 16 in 2008-09, and 11 of 19 in 2007-08 all got A's. Obviously that means that you can get an A even if you don't hire a person (of color). The process we're emphasizing is getting the best people in the room (for interviews), and that includes people of color, and by doing that, we're going to see the numbers change."
During the cycle of the past two report cards (three years), the number of minority women's basketball coaches has risen from eight to 23, including 18 black women.
Men's basketball might be next on the agenda. The percentage of black Division I coaches has dropped from 25 percent to 21.
"A 4 percent drop is a significant drop," Lapchick said. "Everybody just assumed that it was so wide open that nobody's paid attention, including us."
Lapchick and BCA executive director Floyd Keith said much remains to be done in minority hiring. The BCA continues to push for a rule in college sports similar to the NFL's so-called "Rooney Rule," which requires teams to interview minority candidates when they have a coaching or administrative opening.
"Probably one of the most disappointing things in my professional career is that college sports is the worst offender," Lapchick said.
"We're the worst at hiring women, we're the worst at hiring people of color, and hopefully the type of efforts the BCA is making with the hiring report cards is going to begin to change that."
SMART HONORED: Virginia Commonwealth men's basketball coach Shaka Smart, a former Florida assistant (2008) under Billy Donovan, was awarded the Fritz Pollard BCA Male Coach of the Year Award.
He said he is blessed to have been mentored by top-notch coaches. Smart, who led VCU to its first Final Four this year after starting the NCAA Tournament in a play-in game, said he was reminded during that improbable run that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
"I had a coach who always told me 'Believe in yourself unbelievably,' " Smart, 34, said. "That's what I did this year."
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.