League has good racial, gender diversity

Updated: May 19, 2005, 3:34 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The WNBA again is America's best pro sports league at achieving racial and gender diversity, from front offices down to the court, according to a study released Thursday.

The A grade given by Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport came after he examined data from the 2004 season. The WNBA matched the grade it received in the 2001 Racial and Gender Report Card.

Among men's leagues, the NBA ranked the highest in diversity with an overall grade of B-plus. The NBA and WNBA both earned As for race; the WNBA also got an A for gender while its older brother was given a B.

In Lapchick's studies, an A for race is achieved if 24 percent of the positions were held by racial minorities; to earn the same grade for gender, 40 percent of the employees must be women.

Two-thirds of the WNBA's players were minorities, while there were five of the league's 13 head coaches are women and four are black. Trudi Lacey of the Charlotte Sting was the only black woman coaching a team; she also serves as the Sting's general manager.

In the WNBA league offices, 90 percent of the employees were women, while 40 percent were minorities. The league president in 2004 was Val Ackerman, who has been replaced by another woman. Donna Orender is the only female president of a major pro sports league, as Ackerman was.

The WNBA employed three black general managers; at 23 percent, this was the best mark among the six leagues studied by Lapchick. There were eight female GMs.

Along with the WNBA and NBA, the Racial and Gender Report Card also studies the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NHL, Major League Soccer and college athletics departments.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press