ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A diversity report shows the NBA "significantly ahead" again in professional sports in racial and gender hiring practices.
The league received an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring practices for the 2016-17 season. The NBA drew an overall grade of A-minus, continuing its run of A grades since the start of the 2000s.
The report card was released Thursday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The report was written by Richard Lapchick.
The NBA sets the pace, with people of color making up 30 percent of the head coaches and 45 percent of the assistants. The NBA is also the first major sports league to have three owners of color.
Report cards are also issued for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS and college sports.
"They have been significantly ahead of the other leagues from the time we started it in the 1980s," said Lapchick, the chair of University of Central Florida's sports business management program. "Other leagues have closed the gap and improved a little bit but the NBA has continued to improve as well to stay the industry leader."
The league, however, did receive an F for race representation this season at the levels of team president/CEO and general manager. There are just four people of color at the top tier of team management and three general managers of color.
The NBA also received a D for gender hiring for team vice presidents, with women making up 24 percent of the workforce in that area. Although women in team senior administrative positions jumped from 24 percent in 2015-16 to 29 percent this past season, the league earned a C-minus for gender hiring at the team level.
"There are obviously areas in there that need improvement," Lapchick said. "This is the second year in a row that we've talked to about the lack of women in senior leadership positions at the team level."
Still, the NBA receives overall high marks for hiring practices at the team and league offices. In the NBA league office, 35 percent of the professional staff positions were held by people of color at the beginning of this season, with women at nearly 39 percent.
Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum is the highest ranking African-American of any of the professional American sports leagues.
Lapchick attributes the NBA's strong marks to its past two commissioners — David Stern and Adam Silver. Months after he became commissioner in 2014, Silver led the way in ousting Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling after it was discovered he made racist remarks.
"That kind of out-front posturing is important," Lapchick said. "It sends a signal to the teams and obviously to the league office that diversity and inclusiveness is very important. I think all commissioners feel that way but I think the NBA has made its stamp even more powerful."