Study: Gender, Race Gap Still Exists in Sports Front Offices, Sidelines: WNBA Receives Top Marks for Opportunities for Women and Minorities

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ORLANDO, FLA.

The WNBA was the only major professional sports league to receive top marks in a comprehensive study comparing opportunities for women and minorities in sports.

The University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport examined front office, support staff, playing and coaching opportunities in 2004 for women and minorities in professional football, basketball, baseball and soccer, along with the range of college sports. Despite improvements in the NBA, Major League Baseball and the Major League Soccer, women's basketball received the only overall A grade in researcher Dr. Richard E. Lapchick's report card.

"There's been a general improvement in the leagues over a period of time," Lapchick says. "I think the glaring gaps are at the college level, at what are considered to be the top positions."

According to Lapchick, all 11 Division I-A football conference commissioners in 2004 were White and just three out of 117 head football coaches in the division were Black.

Though minority players make up about 75 percent of NBA and NFL rosters, only the NBA, which has three Black presidents and CEOs, was awarded an A for race among men's leagues. Baseball maintained its B+ score for race, but college and soccer lost slightly overall.

The grades were calculated by comparing percentages of minorities and women in the country to percentages on teams and in sports management.

Leagues employing at least 24 percent minorities were given an A in race, while those with 9 percent received a C-, the lowest awarded. An A in gender meant women made up at least 40 percent of a given category, with D's awarded for 25 percent and F's for anything below. …