New NCAA report better represents athletics diversity

This month, the NCAA is releasing a new version of its student-athlete race and ethnicity report, designed to provide a more accurate representation of diversity in college athletics. The new process provides two separate categories: Foreign student-athlete and race/ethnicity. In the past, athletes from different countries would only be classified as a nonresident alien and their race/ethnicity would not be recorded. A new column will be added to the 2006-2007 report, the most current one, to display these changes. Marj Snyder, chief program and planning officer of the WomenâÄôs Sports Foundation , said she agrees with the changes. âÄúIf youâÄôre going to talk about race, you canâÄôt exclude someone from the race count because they come from another country,âÄù Snyder said. A University case study that evaluated issues related to academic support and performance of student-athletes was updated in January. The study, conducted by the Task Force on Academic Support and Performance for Student-Athletes , reported approximately 1,750 student-athletes and 63,050 non student-athletes enrolled at the University from 1999-2007. Of student-athletes, 15.3 percent were students of color, and 16.5 percent of non student-athletes were students of color, according to the report. About 5.6 percent of the student-athlete population was from other countries. Snyder said there is some controversy when bringing in international students to play college sports. âÄúTaxpayers are not happy that students from their own state are not getting scholarships,âÄù Snyder said. âÄúTennis, for example, has a large number of international participants and some people donâÄôt like that the fact that they get picked over people who are from the area.âÄù The WomenâÄôs Sports Foundation conducted a research project last month called WhoâÄôs Playing College Sports: Money, Race and Gender . The report examines the effect of Title IX on diversity in college sports. Early growth in womenâÄôs athletics favored those sports with the highest levels of racial and ethnic diversity, such as basketball and volleyball. Recent increases favored sports with less diversity, such as synchronized swimming and lacrosse, according to the report. This occurred because almost all NCAA schools already sponsor most of the sports with high participation by female athletes of color. Of the 10 sports that contain the largest percentages of student-athletes of color, five (basketball, volleyball, cross country, softball and tennis) are offered by more than 83 percent of NCAA institutions, the report said. Of the sports with the lowest levels of diversity, only soccer is sponsored by more than 48 percent of NCAA schools. Snyder said it will take a grassroots effort to improve diversity in athletics, getting people involved at young ages so they can develop through the system and have a chance to play in high school.