The WNBA and Diversity

by Ben York / @bjyork

The WNBA continues to lead the way in the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport annual report card. In fact, the WNBA has earned the highest combined grade for any sport in the study since 2004.

Richard Lapchick, the leader of the study, says “The WNBA remained as the best employer overall for women anAsjha Jones & Katie Smithd people of color in any sport.”

The Report Card is issued sport-by-sport. The WNBA Racial and Gender Report Card is the third report issued so far in 2010 after the releases of reports on Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. The complete Racial and Gender Report Card will be issued after the release of the NFL, MLS and college sport reports.

Here are a few of the highlights in the 2010 report on the WNBA:

– The 2010 WNBA Racial and Gender Report Card received a combined grade for race and gender of an A+ by earning an A+ for gender and an A for race.

– For the second consecutive Report Card, the WNBA had the highest number of A’s as well as the lowest number of grades below an A in all categories in the history of the Racial and Gender Report Card.

– The number of white players decreased by one percentage point during the 2009 season, and decreased another four percentage points in the 2010 season.

– Sheila Johnson was the only person of color considered an owner during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 2006, Johnson became the first African-American woman to hold any ownership in a WNBA team when she was named managing partner of the Washington Mystics when Lincoln Holdings, LLC acquired the team from Abe and Irene Pollin. Ms. Johnson owns approximately 6-7 percent of Lincoln Holdings.

– Donna Orender remains the only woman president of a professional sports league.

– At the start of the 2010 season, there were four African-American head coaches, a five percentage point decrease from the 2009 season. There were six women head coaches in the 2009 season and seven women head coaches at the start of the 2010 season, representing a 12 percentage point increase.

– Since the last WNBA Report Card, the percentage of African-American assistant coaches increased from 42 to 44 percent in 2010 while the percentage of white assistant coaches decreased from 58 to 56 percent. The percentage of women as assistant coaches rose slightly from 55 to 56 percent, though the number was nearly half. In 2010, WNBA teams in general reduced the number of assistant coaches hired due to several factors, including the league’s new restriction on the number of coaches allowed on the bench.

– The number of women in the CEO/presidents role increased from five to six in 2009, and remained at six in 2010.

– In the 2010 season, there were six women and four African-Americans as general managers (two were African-American women).

– With the relocation of the Tulsa Shock from Detroit, and the subsequent hiring of Nolan Richardson as the head coach and general manager, the league added an African-American to increase the people of color holding leadership positions.

– During the 2010 season, 30 percent of team senior administrators were people of color (up 10 percentage points), including 24 percent African-American (up 12 percentage points). Sixty five percent of senior team administrators in the WNBA were women, up from 44 percent in 2009. The grades for Senior Administration increased in both race and gender to an.

– In the professional administration category in the 2010 season, whites increased by three percentage points to 80 percent, and African-Americans increased by two percentage points to 17 percent. Latinos decreased from three percent to zero percent in 2010, while the percentage of women increased from 49 to 54 percent. In the Professional Administration category, in the 2008 season, both whites and African-Americans increased by one percentage point to 72 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Latinos decreased from 15 percent to 10 percent in 2008, while the percentage of women increased from 48 to 52 percent.