A&M Coaching Lacks Diversity | Sports



In varsity athletics, Texas A&M is held back by its failures in the area of ​​Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI.

At the time of going to press, A&M is endorsing 16 NCAA Division I sports teams. Of these, all are headed by a white head coach. No person of color has held such a role since Kevin Sumlin left A&M in 2017, reigniting a period of marked racial inequality in the world. 12th Men’s Athletics program. To compound the problem, only three of the current head coaches identify as women – Tana McKay of horseback riding, Jo Evans of softball and Laura “Bird” Kuhn of volleyball – even though 10 different teams include female athletes and that the eight-team rosters are all female.

This widening divide has caught the attention of others outside of Maroon and White sports teams, including John Singer, Ph.D., an associate professor of sports management at A&M who studies diversity in the world. Athletics. First fascinated by race and its relationship to varsity sports while studying as a graduate student at a predominantly white university, Singer said A&M’s lack of diversity in coaching positions reflects a nationwide trend.

“We can’t have this conversation without understanding the nuance,” Singer said. “There are factors at the broader, systemic, organizational and individual level.”

According to The Washington Post, black students alone make up over 60 percent of all college football and basketball teams across the country. Hispanic and Latinx students make up 12% of athletes in all sports.

Part of A&M’s nationally recognized football team as a “proud black woman,” senior defenseman Karlina Sample said she is experiencing the influence that non-white athletes can have within of a championship program. This is why including diversity within a team’s coaching staff should be a priority, she said.

“A lot of athletes are people of color so they need to be represented,” Sample said.

Singer added that athletic staff should be held accountable for making hiring decisions that do not reflect the similar backgrounds of the athletes themselves.

“When you watch certain sports, we see a strong representation of students from racial minorities,” Singer said. “There really is no excuse not to [hiring coaches of color] a priority.”

A&M’s athletics department has implemented a diversity and inclusion program to help bridge the gap between 12th Man Athletics and the needs of athletes of color. According to his website, the project was created to “provide a safe, healthy, equitable, respectful, inclusive and supportive environment” that allows all athletes to “thrive”.

This included the creation of Aggie’s commitment initiative, The BLUE imprint program and Unified voices Platform.

As Deputy Director of Sports and Head of Diversity for 12th Man, Kristen Brown has been instrumental in implementing these steps towards progress. Because she has 18 years of experience as a black woman in the sports industry, Brown – the highest ranked female administrator in the sports department – said she pushed the department to prioritize policies. DEI on a daily basis.

“Our goal is to develop and implement plans and strategies to increase equity and maintain an inclusive environment,” said Brown. “Then through that we focus on unity, education and commitment.”

For some, however, these representations by the school administration are not enough. Sample, president of The BLUE imprint, or Black Leaders who Undertake Excellence, organization, said it felt called upon as a leader to push for representation and change not provided by the university.

It doesn’t just focus on athletics, Sample said, emphasizing instead the importance of growth in all aspects of an athlete’s life.

“We remind athletes that they are more than just an athlete for the sport they play. They have so much more substance, ”Sample said. “[The organization] tries to uplift student athletes and elevate them in terms of academics, careers and other resources outside of sport. It represents growth as a person and as an individual.

Brown said the work of young adults like Sample on campus has helped A&M advance in areas where even the diversity and inclusion agenda has failed.

“[The B.L.U.E.print] has been an amazing organization where we have had so many student athletes who have stepped up their leadership roles, not only within their teams, but across the department, ”said Brown.

But this fight for representation is not a war athletes should fight alone, Singer said. When it comes to preventing people of color from taking up head coaching positions, Singer said a variety of factors often make matters worse: implicit and explicit biases, a supposed lack of candidates for hiring or a lack of rigor and intentionality when hiring.

However, none of these reasons is a valid excuse to forgive the lack of diversity among A&M head coaches, Singer said.

“Yes [hiring managers] have the will, the skills and the knowledge to bring athletes of color here, so they should have the will, the skills and the knowledge to recruit coaches who reflect that, ”Singer said. “People have a certain prejudice towards people who look like them, think like them and have similar experiences. So if a sporting director or hiring manager lacks these experiences, it can subconsciously reflect in a coaching team. “

Brown said the sports department was aware of the problem and took full responsibility for the situation.

“This fact is not lost on the administration,” said Brown. “This responsibility lies with us as the leadership of the sports department to ensure that we are intentional and inclusive in our hiring practices and that we seek all possible candidates for these positions.”

To move forward, A&M must choose between two paths for the future. On the one hand, the university can continue to admit that there is a problem without implementing real programs that attempt to solve the problem. Or, administrators can begin to take seriously the concerns raised by students, athletes, and other faculty members in order to better serve a community that has more than doubled in size at A&M since 2003, Sample said.

Sample said his vision was to see the university take the latter approach, providing more support and opportunities for advancement to other athletes of color. This is especially pronounced by the ability with which athletes of color can and should play a role in the process of hiring a new head coach, Sample said.

“I would just encourage A&M to be more intentional in hiring more people of color,” Sample said. “I think it’s overlooked like it’s not a big deal. And student-athletes can be used as a vehicle for improvement in this area.

In line with the SEC 2020 co-advocate of the year dream, Brown said she hopes to use her position in the department to improve the overall culture and climate at A&M.

“It’s about continuing to grow and continuing to make sure that A&M is inclusive and that when you walk into our campus – it doesn’t matter if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, whatever your identity – you feel at home, you feel welcome and you feel comfortable being exactly who you are in the skin you are in, ”said Brown.

So there is cause for hope at A&M, Sample said. The student-led initiatives show the commitment of young Aggies to their university, and the programs implemented by the university aim to work towards a more diverse and inclusive sphere of brown and white athletics.

But at some point, the university must “step up” and do more than is currently underway, Singer said. It starts with hiring a coach of color that athletes can turn to for leadership, advice and a promise of success.

“At the end of the day, you can have all the diversity agendas, rhetoric or statements of commitment to diversity that you want,” Singer said. “But if you don’t have decision-makers with the will and the intention to change the demographics of a coaching staff, it won’t happen.”


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