After the list of demands of the Association for African American Collegians was sent to the school administration, race is a topic of discussion on the Webster University campus, including in the school athletic department.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) states on its website that it is “committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student athletes, coaches and administrators. We seek to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds. Diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment for all student-athletes and enhance excellence within the association.”
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) conducted its Racial and Gender Report Card for 2014. College reports received a lower grade than in 2013 (C+) because institutions worsened for gender hiring practices and racial hiring practices.
In 2014, 91.3 percent of head coaches in Division III (DIII) were white. That was 0.4 percent better than the previous year (91.7 percent). 4.8 percent of men’s head coaches and 4.2 percent of women’s head coaches were filled by African-Americans.
In 2014, African-American coaches in men’s collegiate athletics were less than the percentage of women head coaches in men’s sports (5.1 versus 4.8 percent).
The percentage of assistant coaches in DIII that were white, increased from the previous year (85.6 to 85.9 percent). Both Division II and Division I had a decrease in their white assistant coaches and were at a lower rate than Division III already, 75.6 and 73.7 respectively.
SLIAC vs. the nation
Webster University is a part of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). The NCAA demographic database showed that the SLIAC conference had a lower percentage (90.4 percent) than the national average in the percentage of white head coaches and above average for African-American head coaches (9.6 percent).
SLIAC was also below the national average for DIII in white assistant coaches with 82.4 percent. Again, the conference was above average for African-American assistant coaches (11.8 percent) compared to the DIII average (8.2 percent).
Webster University comparison
According to Webster University’s human resources webpage, “the mission of the Human Resource Department is to serve as the link between prospective employees and the institution in an attempt to recruit and hire the most qualified individuals, without regard to race, age, sex or disability, for any position vacancy within the university community.”
Scott Kilgallon, athletic director at Webster University, said with the hiring process, he would prefer to create a search committee. The search committee would consist of staff members in the athletic department and one or two student athletes from the team that the new coach would be hired to lead.
Kilgallon said he would prefer for the coaches to come onto campus during the hiring process to meet with the team to see if they are not only a good fit for the team, but for the campus as well.
Currently, Kilgallon has yet to make any new hires onto the coaching staff since he took the job in April 2014.
As of this year, Webster’s coaching staff is 87.5 percent white, below the DIII average and the SLIAC average.
“We are pretty good, compared to others,” Kilgallon said. “It can always get better… We’ve been in a unique situation that we haven’t had movement. We’ve got good coaches here.”
However, race does not play a role in the hiring process for the athletic coaches.
“At the end of the day, you’re looking for the best candidate, the best person who is going to deliver a top-notch program for your student athletes,” Kilgallon said.
Kilgallon said there is an absolute benefit to having a more diverse coaching staff. The more diverse the staff, the better chance at getting recruits and the better relationships the student athletes have with the coaches.
“We have good coaches here whose expectation is, no matter what background somebody is, that they’re working just as strong with everybody,” Kilgallon said. “That’s not just athletics too, what we want is graduation and helping develop young men and women.”