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NBA scores well in diversity

The league earns an overall grade of B-plus

Knight Ridder Newspapers

PHILADELPHIA -- With African Americans making up 76 percent of its players and 37 percent of its head coaches, it's not surprising that the NBA continues to score well in an assessment of the diversity of professional sports leagues.

According to a study conducted by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, the NBA earned an overall grade of B-plus -- an A on race and a B on gender issues.

In April, Major League Baseball earned an overall C-plus, a B-plus in racial diversity and a C in gender. Findings for the NFL will be released later this month.

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Overall, 311 of the NBA's 410 players were black, 91 white, five Latino, and three Asian. Thanks to the presence of 68 international players, the total of whites was at 22 percent, an increase of 2 percent over the most recent study in 2001-02 and 4 percent over the all-time low in 1994-95.

Diversity was also evident off the court. Forty-three percent of the professionals in the league office were women and 29 percent minorities; 12 percent of vice presidents were minorities, 17 percent women; and 24 percent of the teams' professional administrative staffs were minorities.

Also, for the first time in the 13-year-history of the study, there is a black owner, Robert Johnson of the new Charlotte Bobcats. Three team presidents and five general managers are black.

"David Stern set the tone by example, and that's really an important thing to do," said Richard Lapchick, the institute's director, in referring to the NBA's commissioner.

In the 2001-02 report, the NBA also earned an A in racial diversity, baseball a B-plus, the NFL a B-minus, and the NHL a C grade.

An A equates to 24 percent of the positions being held by minorities or 40 percent by women. A B is awarded for 12 percent minorities or 35 percent women.

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