2016 National Basketball Association Racial and Gender Report Card

The 2016 National Basketball Association Racial and Gender Report Card (RGRC) was released today and while it confirmed the League’s continued leadership position in the sports industry with its commitment to and record for racial and gender hiring practices during the 2015-2016 NBA season, there was a noteworthy decline in the grade for gender hiring.

The NBA once again received men’s sports only A+ for racial hiring practices with a score of 97.2 points. This was close to the all-time record high recorded in 2015 with 97.4 points.

However, it dropped from a B+ to a B for gender hiring practices with 83.7 points, down substantially from 88 in 2015. The overall grade was an A with 90.4 points, down from 92.7 in the 2015 RGRC.

Richard Lapchick, the Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES or The Institute) at the University of Central Florida and primary author of the report, stated, “No other men’s league reaches the same points for race, gender or the combined score. The NBA remains the industry leader among men’s sports for racial hiring practices. Nonetheless, there is concern with both the significant slippage in the overall gender grade including a small decline in the League Office and the fact that women were still not well represented at the senior team levels. But overall, the NBA more than understands that diversity and inclusion are business imperatives. Commissioner Silver has been clear on this issue from the onset of his tenure with the Donald Sterling decision.”

While they are the best, even in the League Office there were slight declines for people of color and women in professional positions where 35.3 percent (down 0.1 of a percentage point) of all professional employees were people of color and 39.6 percent were women (down 1.3 percentage points from the previous report). There were 50 women serving as vice presidents at the NBA League Office in the 2015-2016 season.

The NBA was the first league to have two owners of color leading its teams. Also, there were five women who served as team presidents/CEOs during the 2015-2016 season, the highest in men’s professional sports.

There were increases for people of color in team senior roles and in team professional administration positions. The percentage of people of color who held team senior administration positions increased by 3.5 percentage points from 20 percent in 2014-2015 to 23.5 percent in 2015-2016. The percentage of women who held team senior administration positions decreased by 0.4 percentage points from 24 in 2014-2015 to 23.6 percent in 2015-2016. Women were still very underrepresented at this level as well as team vice presidents. The percentage of people of color who held team professional administration positions increased substantially by 5.7 percentage points from 26.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 32.1 percent in 2015-2016 while the percentage of women remained the same at 36.1 percent.
There were notable declines for people of color, especially among head coaches and general managers. At the beginning of this season, 30 percent of all head coaches were coaches of color, which was a decrease from the 33.3 percent recorded in at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. By the end of the playoffs, there were still nine (30 percent) NBA head coaches of color. NBA general managers of color decreased from six to 4 (13.3 percent) in the 2015-2016 season. Finally, the number of team presidents/CEOs of color decreased from 8.8 percent (five) in 2014-2015 to 5.3 percent (three) in 2015-2016.

Using data from the 2015 - 2016 season, TIDES conducted an analysis of racial breakdowns of the players and coaches. In addition, the Report Card includes a racial and gender breakdown of management in the NBA League Office and referees, as well as at various levels within each NBA franchise such as top management, team senior administration, team professional administration, physicians, head trainers and broadcasters. For the first time, the NBA gathered all the individual team data and transmitted it in aggregate to TIDES which then analyzed the data. The listing of owners, head coaches, team presidents and general managers of color for the 2016 Report Card was then updated to reflect changes through the end of the 2016 playoffs. The 2016 Report also has the extensive list of NBA diversity initiatives, which are in Appendix II. Tables for the Report are included in Appendix I. The co-author of the report was Theren Bullock Jr.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida publishes the Racial and Gender Report Card to indicate areas of improvement, stagnation and regression in the racial and gender composition of professional and college sports personnel and to contribute to the improvement of integration in front office and college athletics department positions. The 2016 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card follows the release of the Major League Baseball RGRC. In succession, TIDES will release the Racial and Gender Report Cards for the National Football League, the Women’s National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and College sport. A first-ever report card of the status of women in leadership positions in international sport will be released on August 1, 2016 in advance of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

• Michael Jordan was the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Vivek Ranadive, who is from India, was the controlling owner of the Sacramento Kings. They were the first two owners of color to lead their teams in any of the major professional sports leagues.

• The percentage of white NBA players was 18.3 percent, a decrease of 5.0 percentage points from the 23.3 percent recorded in 2014-2015.

• Black players comprised 74.3 percent of all NBA players (a decrease of 0.1 of a percentage point) while 81.7 percent of players were people of color (an increase of 5.0 percentage points).

• International players comprised 22.3 percent of the NBA’s players during the 2015-2016 season, which was the highest recorded percentage of international players in NBA history.

• At the start of the 2015-16 season, head coaches who were people of color represented 30 percent of all NBA head coaches, which was a decrease from the 33.3 percent recorded at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. After changes during and at the end of the playoffs, there remained nine (30 percent) NBA head coaches of color.

• NBA general managers of color decreased from six to 4 (13.3 percent) in the 2015-2016 season.

• Assistant coaches who were people of color represented 44.3 percent of the NBA’s assistant coaches, a sizable increase from 40.8 percent last season, which was the lowest recorded percent of assistant coaches of color since 2006-2007.

• Mark Tatum was appointed NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer in 2014. Tatum’s appointment made him the highest-ranking African-American in the league office of any of the major American professional sports.

• Kathy Behrens, President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs, is the highest-ranking woman in a men’s professional sport.

• In 2015, the Sacramento Kings hired Nancy Lieberman as the second full-time female NBA assistant coach ever.

• At the NBA League Office, 35.3 percent of professional staff positions were held by people of color, a decrease from 35.4 percent at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

• Women held 39.6 percent of all professional positions in the NBA League Office, a decrease from 40.9 percent at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

• In June 2015, the NBA hired Oris Stuart as Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Stuart is responsible for overseeing diversity and inclusion strategies for the NBA, WNBA, and NBA D-League.

• In June 2016, the NBA hired Byron Spruell as President, League Operations. Spruell will oversee Basketball and Referee Operations for the NBA.

• There were three Black chief executive officers and presidents on NBA teams. Those classified as Latinos and Asians and “other” ethnicities had no representation at the CEO/president positions. The percent of CEO/presidents of color decreased from 8.8 percent to 5.3 percent.

• Matina Kolokotronis (Sacramento Kings), Jeanie Buss (Los Angeles Lakers), Gillian Zucker (Los Angeles Clippers), and Irina Pavlova (Brooklyn Nets) held the role of president for NBA franchises as of the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. They were joined by Juliana Hawn Holt who was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the San Antonio Spurs in March 2016. This was more than in any other of the men’s professional sports for each of the last two years.

• NBA general managers of color decreased from six to four (13.3 percent) in the 2015-2016 season. There were three Black (10 percent) general managers in the NBA. Rich Cho, General Manager of the Charlotte Hornets, remained the only Asian general manager in the history of the NBA. When hired by the Portland Trailblazers in 2010, he became the first Asian-American general manager in major American men’s professional sports.

• Women held 21.5 percent of vice president positions in the NBA at the team level, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the 2014-2015 season. This is still a small percentage of the total team vice president positions.

• People of color held 18.2 percent of NBA team vice president positions, which increased from the 15.4 percent recorded in the 2014-2015 season and was an all-time recorded high for people of color.

• The percentage of people of color in team senior administration positions increased. The percentage of people of color who held team senior administration positions increased by 3.5 percentage points from 20 percent in 2014-2015, to 23.5 percent in 2015-2016.

• The percentage of women who held team senior administration positions decreased by 0.4 percentage points from 24 in 2014-2015 to 23.6 percent in 2015-2016. This remains a small percentage of the total team senior administration positions.

• The percentage of people of color who held team professional administration positions increased by 5.7 percentage points from 26.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 32.1 percent in 2015-2016.

• The percentage of women holding team professional administration positions remained at 36.1 percent in 2015-2016.

• The percentage of NBA team physicians who were people of color decreased significantly from 21.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 15.7 percent in 2015-2016.

• NBA officials of color decreased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 46.9 percent in 2015-2016. Of the 64 total referees, two were women, which tied an all-time high.

OVERALL GRADES

The NBA once again received men’s sports only A+ for racial hiring practices and a B for gender hiring practices with scores of 97.2 points (down slightly from 97.4) and 83.7 points (down substantially from 88), respectively. The overall grade was an A with 90.4 points, down from 92.7 in the 2015 RGRC. The NBA was the best for all three categories among the men’s professional sports.

The NBA received an A+ for racial hiring practices in the League Office, head coaches, assistant coaches, professional administration at the team level and for player opportunities. Across the League, it earned an A- for senior administration at the team level, a B+ for team vice presidents, and a B for general managers.

The NBA received an A- for gender hiring practices in the League Office and a B+ for professional administration at the team level. The NBA received a D+ for senior administrators at the team level and an F for team vice presidents.

The League earned an A+ for diversity initiatives.