Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

U.S. Rep. Rush Vows To Change Collegiate Sports Discriminatory Hiring Practices Rev. Jesse Jackson, NCAA's Myles Brand, And Nolan Richardson Among Witnesses

Feb 28, 2007
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (Wed. 28)On the last day of Black History Month Congressman Bobby L. Rush urged the NCAA to change is discriminatory hiring practices in collegiate sports before Congress intervenes.

Im committed to solving this hiring problem. Its been a problem for far too long and this issue needs to be exposed to the American public, said Rep. Rush, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection who held the congressional hearing Wed. 28. Consider the facts:

         Currently, only 12 Division 1-A Athletic Directors are African American.

         Of the 616 teams associated with the NCAA at any level, only 16 (2.6 percent) had African American head coaches last season (excluding HBCUs).

         While roughly 25 percent of college basketball head coaches are black, only 7 of the 119 head coaches in Division 1-A college football teams are African American.

         The representation for Latinos and Asian Americans is far worse.

         Not a single Conference Commissioner is a person of color.


In athletics, we all play on a level playing field, where the rules are clear and the same for everyone. Excellence excels; race doesnt matter, said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder and President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition during the hearing. (We must) extend the level playing field to the sidelines, the locker room, the office suites, and the league meetings.

Collegiate athletics are often the only viable means for qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive a college education. Colleges and universities spend approximately $1.5 billion a year on athletic scholarships for approximately 380,000 student-athletes. Given that people of color make up a very large percentage of the student-athlete population, it is vital that these young men and women have access to role models and mentors from equally diverse backgrounds, explained Rep. Rush.

Moreover, NCAA college sports is a multi-billion dollar industry that reaches for into numerous commercial sectors, such as network television and merchandise. The NCAA estimates that the Associations 1,000 membership colleges and universities bring in between $4 to $5 billion and spend between $5 and $6 billion a year.

Given the prominence of minority athletes in this multi-billion industry, which the courts have ruled involves interstate commerce, the lack of people of color in administrative and leadership positions is troubling, said Rush. If racial discrimination (intentional or not) is a reality in the upper echelons, and people of color are not a part of the strategic, decision-making process, Congress should examine and shed light on this systemic exclusion in order to determine if further remedial action is necessary.

Other witnesses included, Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, Floyd Keith, Executive Director, Black Coaches Association, Nolan Richardson, former Head Coach, University of Arkansas Basketball, Richard Lapchick, Sports Management, Tim Weiser, Athletic Director, Kansas State University, and Fitz Hill, President, Arkansas Bible College, former Head Coach, San Jose State football.

Until laws are made, there is not going to be any progress. Not in my lifetime, said Richardson who said he was blackballed by the University of Arkansas for being outspoken and not being willing to accept being treated as a token. His testimony detailed the discriminatory practices he faced while head coach at the University of Arkansas.