Posted on August 28, 2012

Basketball Coaches and Starbucks Push for Affirmative Action

Julianne Hing, Color Lines, August 22, 2012

They may be strange bedfellows, but there is one issue of national import that the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Obama administration and Starbucks have come together to support: affirmative action.

Last week these parties, alongside more than five dozen other groups, told the Supreme Court they believe universities ought to be able to take race into consideration in their admissions policies. Their court filings set the stage for the Supreme Court, which is set to take up the politically fraught issue this fall.

Fortune 100 companies argued people of color and religious minorities are key to the nation’s economic success; in an increasingly globalized world, diverse companies do better business. Diverse student bodies were in the best interests of government, said the Departments of Justice, Defense, Education, Commerce, Labor and Health and Human Services.

Yet it was the voices of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and 43 current and former coaches, which stuck out most in the crowd of 71 briefs filed in support of race-conscious admissions. Without affirmative action, colleges run the risk of regressing to the days when the only black and Latino students on campus are student athletes said the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“I think for a number of us who were on college campuses back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, were there African-American basketball players and football players on those campuses? Sure. But that certainly wouldn’t suggest there was diversity throughout the universities,” NABC president Jim Haney told ESPN. “Minority representation in some cases was almost exclusively student-athletes.”