Meet Richard Lapchick, the 'racial conscience of sport' for today's college teams

Dr. Lapchick serves as a director of three organizations combining social justice and college athletics.

Dr. Richard Lapchick has been described as the “racial conscience of sport” who is an internationally known social justice leader in the world of college sports.

Lapchick is an author, scholar, “human rights activist” and “pioneer for racial equality.” He was named “One of the 100 Most Powerful People in Sport” for six years in a row as well as “one of the 20 most powerful people in college sports.” He has also received nine honorary degrees. 

From 1970 to 1978, Lapchick was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Virginia Wesleyan College. During the subsequent six years, he served as a Senior Liaison Officer at the United Nations.

Currently, Lapchick serves as the director of the DeVos Sport Business Management graduate program at the University of Central Florida. The graduate program focuses on “ethics, diversity, leadership, community service and innovation” with a stated goal of “sport for positive social change.” 

In 2015, SportBusiness ranked DeVos as the second graduate sport business management program in the world.

A component of this program is The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) which serves as a “comprehensive resource for issues related to gender and race in amateur, collegiate and professional sports and the media.”

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The organization publishes the annual Racial and Gender Report Card covering the hiring and recruiting practices of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Soccer and College Sport.

“TIDES provides consulting services on racial and gender hiring practices including researching and creating Racial and Gender Report Cards for individual sports teams,” the website states. 

In order to earn an A in the category of race, at least 30 percent of people involved with the organization including administrative staff, coaches, leadership and athletes must be of color. To receive an A for gender, at least 45 percent must be women.

College sports as a whole received a grade of “C+” for racial hiring and a “C” for gender hiring on the 2021 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card. 

TIDES’ report cards are regularly highlighted on ESPN.com., by Lapchick himself. He is a Contributing Writer for the outlet.

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In 1984, Lapchick helped found the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. He served as the director for 17 years and currently serves as the director emeritus.

Lapchick founded the National Consortium for Academics & Sports (NCAS) in 1985 which was the “first of its kind” degree completion program that gave former student-athletes an opportunity to combine their passion with “community service” and “social justice.” The program was later renamed as the Institute For Sport & Social Justice (ISSJ) in 2018. 

ISSJ’s vision is to “create worldwide social justice through the power of sport” and its core values include social justice, power of sport, education, diversity and inclusion and ethical and moral leadership. 

“We believe diversity and inclusion serve as catalysts to promote fairness, equity, and justice,” the website states.

Lapchick is also a writer and public speaker having written over 550 articles, 17 books and 2,900 public speeches. Over the years, he has appeared on Good Morning America, Face The Nation, The Today Show, ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, CNN and ESPN.

Campus Reform reached out to Lapchick, UCF, TIDES, Northeastern University and ISSJ for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.