Jerry Eaves is unwilling to keep waiting. Thirty-three years since his graduation, the former University of Louisville basketball star has grown impatient with the racial composition of the school’s athletic department.
He demands more diversity and he vows to be vigilant.
“They’re not changing through normal channels,” Eaves, a starting guard on U of L’s 1980 NCAA Championship team, said Monday evening. “People are going to have to force this. People like myself are going to have to watch every hire, critique every hire. … I’m not upset with anybody, but the numbers cannot stay the same. They need to start fixing it, pronto.”
Mark Beckham, U of L’s women’s tennis coach, is the only African-American among the school’s 17 head coaches, but a broader look reveals more proportional representation. A November, 2016 report by the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning showed that 29 of the athletic department’s 266 full-time employees (10.9 percent) were black, and another five were classified as multi-racial. According to U of L athletics spokesman Kenny Klein, seven of the school’s 46 assistant coaches are African-American, as are three of the 19 assistant and associate athletic directors below athletic director Tom Jurich.
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Eaves argues that U of L’s coaching numbers are skewed by the sports of football and basketball, where “you need brothers to get brothers” and because recruiting African-American athletes in revenue-generating sports is crucial to the financial stability of the entire program.
Eaves’ complaints are not confined to the U of L campus, for the disconnect between black athletes and their future job prospects is a common condition throughout college athletics. Many major schools are susceptible to the allegation their athletic programs enrich Caucasian coaches and administrators and subsidize white athletes in non-revenue sports by exploiting black athletes.
A study released in April by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport…