NCAA Swimming Lands ‘F’ Grade for Lack of Women Coaching Female Teams

Last week the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota published its annual findings on women coaching women’s teams at the NCAA level.

Prepared by Tucker Center co-director Nicole M. LaVoi, Ph.D, the reports highlight the percentage of women’s teams coached by female coaches at all three NCAA levels. LaVoi’s findings show that swimming and water polo are among the sports with the fewest female head coaches of female teams.

LaVoi used a sample of 3517 head coach positions of women’s teams from 349 Division I schools. She noted that of those total positions available, five were unfilled at the time of data collection (November 2017 – January 2018), which results in a final sample of 3512 for analysis.

She found that women held 1463 of the 3517 (41.7 percent) head coaching positions for DI women’s teams in general – up a few tenths of a percent from last year. However, the numbers for swimming, diving and water polo are much lower than the general population, at 17.9, 22.9, and 21.9 percent, respectively.

For DIII, of the 4197 positions sampled, women held 45.7 percent of women’s team head coaching positions. For swimming, diving, and water polo, those numbers were just 26.1, 28.7, and 22.2 percent, respectively.

The following charts show the grades of women’s teams only.

GRADE BY SPORT FOR PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE D-I HEAD COACHES FOR 2017-18

GRADE Sport
A 100-70
Lacrosse (91.2%), Rugby (85.7%)*, Field Hockey (84.2%), Equestrian (76.5%)**
B 69-55
Softball (65.3%), Golf (64.4%), Basketball (59.8%)
C 54-40
Gymnastics (54.0%), Bowling (51.4%), Triathlon (50.0%)*, Volleyball (46.8%), Rifle (43.8%)**
D 39-25
Beach Volleyball (38.5%), Rowing (38.4%), Tennis (37.3%), Ice Hockey (29.2%), Soccer (28.1%)
F 24-0
Fencing (23.1%), Diving (22.9%), Water Polo (21.9%), Cross Country (20.2%), Nordic Skiing (20.0%)*, Squash (20.0%)*, Swimming (17.9%), Track (17.7%), Alpine Skiing (9.1%)**

*Offered by ten or fewer schools; **Offered by twenty or fewer schools

GRADE BY SPORT FOR PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE D-III HEAD COACHES FOR 2017-18

GRADE Sport
A 100-70
Field Hockey (96.4%), Equestrian (88.9%), Lacrosse (84.4%)
B 69-55
Beach Volleyball** (66.7%), Softball (65.3%), Volleyball (62.9%), Basketball (60.9%), Gymnastics (57.1%)
C 54-40
Rifle* (50.0%), Ice Hockey (46.3%), Rowing (43.2%), Soccer (41.8%), Bowling (40.0%)
D 39-25
Fencing (33.3%), Rugby**** (33.3%), Diving (28.7%), Alpine Skiing (28.6%), Nordic Skiing (27.3%), Tennis (26.6%), Swimming (26.1%)
F 24-0
Squash (23.5%), Water Polo (22.2%), Golf (21.9%), Triathlon*** (20.0%), Cross Country (19.7%), Track (17.8%), Wrestling**** (16.7%)

*Only offered at two schools; **Only offered at three schools; ***Only offered at five schools; ****Only offered at six schools

The full reports also grade individual conferences, discuss the larger implications of hiring female coaches, and include ways to promote the hiring of women.

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Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Sexism may play a role here, but I’m not sure a percentage-to-grade system is totally fair. Women, on average, have different interests and temperaments that may impact their desire to coach certain sports. As an example, the average woman is far less physically aggressive than the average man, so the low grade for wrestling shouldn’t be much of a surprise. You’d truly need a multivariate statistical analysis to determine what’s a product of biology and what factors are more sinister.

25 free champ
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

This kind of comment is exactly the problem. Women aren’t as aggressive? I bet you’re also the kind that claims women are more nurturing. WOMEN DESERVE EQUALITY!!!!! Get out of here with your excuses and do something about the problem. More women swim than men. Therefore more women would be expected to be coaches. It’s not the case though because of old boys clubs and sexists like you!

EX QUAKER
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

Women are smarter than men on average, and also more conscientious. Women also commit far less violent crime and make up the vast minority of the prison system. I don’t think my prior comment makes me a sexist any more than acknowledgement of these facts makes me a female supremacist.

ScottishDragon
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

You’re the one making excuses. Blaming men for your own shortcomings are the issue. Indeed, all deserve equality, but equality will feel like oppression when you’re use to double standards and special treatment. More women swim than men because if you go to any college, they have 8sports for men and 22 for women. You obviously haven’t been paying attention the past decade with men’s swim teams being swiped away while keeping the women’s in tact. Or even bringing back swimming, but only on the women’s side. More swim because they have more opportunities. That’s why. And no, just because more train as swimmers does not equate to more being coaches. You are the true sexist here.

shasha
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

They’re granted a lot more scholarships money than men. e.g. 20th ranked US male 100 free gets 50% scholarship, but the 40th ranked female gets a full ride

Monkey brain
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

So why are globally >90% of incarcerated people male?

JJJ
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Agreed, but I get the point the article makes with swimming. Swimming strikes me as a sport where I would actually expect more female coaches then male, if anything, given that the sport tends to be more popular on the women’s side (at least from my personal experience, no idea what the data actually says).
But seeing statistics of low representation of women as coches of sports such as hockey or wrestling does not surprise or concern me. Also I would be curious to know what the overall percentage of participation by sex is within sports, as whether or not those percentages lined up with the percentages of coaches by sex would—I think—indicate how serious the issue is or… Read more »

EX QUAKER
Reply to  JJJ
3 years ago

I agree with just about everything you just said- my only concern is that there might be a disparity in factors that bring you to a certain sport and factors that would make you want to coach said sport.

25 free champ
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

I feel that comments like this should be removed. He’s clearly saying in his vague way that women are not as qualified as men simply because of their biology. As if biology affects any of this.

Marcus Joseph Leher
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

Just because you disagree with a comment doesn’t mean it should be removed. Discussion would be very dull if you could only hear the opinions of those with whom you agree.

Swimcoach Ed
Reply to  Marcus Joseph Leher
3 years ago

which is a general problem we see in today’s society, you disagree with what someone says, then that person has no right to say it,it should be removed and no one else can hear it and form his/her own opinion.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

How am I saying women are inferior? How do you know I’m not a woman?

jay
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

exactly what a guy who’s arguing about sexism would say

Anonymoose
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

And you imply being sexist automatically is sexism against women. As If you cant be sexist against men (you can and you can find That in the comment on here)

CrinkleCut
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

For the record, Phyllis Schlafly is a heroine of mine. I don’t want to derail the discussion, but I think she was anything but sexist–I think she was right. It’s not easy to speak unpopular truths.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  25 free champ
3 years ago

Biology does affect this, by the way. The vast majority of educators and medical personnel are women. What’s more likely, that this is because of sexism against men, or due to average differences in interest?

Nathan Smith
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

You just picked two jobs of very few jobs that women were allowed to do back in the day in the US for your example. Do you think Biology has a bigger effect on one’s interests or the culture that you grow up in? Men also disproportionately hold positions of higher power in the medical field and in education. Such a bad argument.

Ole 99
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

I don’t diagreee with the first sentence. You went way off the rails after that with the silly generalizations.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  Ole 99
3 years ago

I’m talking statistics and averages. What specifically did I say that’s false?

Ole 99
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Temperament of women is a statistic now?

EX QUAKER
Reply to  Ole 99
3 years ago

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/ here’s a single study, just as an example.

Ole 99
Reply to  EX QUAKER
3 years ago

I stopped reading when I saw a quote from Bill Cosby.

Justaswimmer
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Ex Quaker, while I do not fully agree with your opinion I want to ask you a question. Have you ever thought how your view my be slightly sexist? The reason that women may be lacking in certain sport because we tell females from a young age that they simply can’t be in a position of power because they don’t have the mental toughness or what it will take to become a good head coach. I have seen many male head coaches who look at their female athletes the way you look at female head coaches, they don’t have what it takes mentally or physically to succeed based on their gender alone. This just further separates us when we should… Read more »

Anonymoose
Reply to  Justaswimmer
3 years ago

‚The reason that women may be lacking in certain sport because we tell females from a young age that they simply can’t be in a position of power because they don’t have the mental toughness or…‘

Im sorry but who is this „we“? Im certainly not Part of this we, are you? And if we both arent Part of it, Tell me where all These Bad People that make up this „we“?
I wont deny that sexism (both ways btw) exists and should be fought but from my experience it’s way less bad than your comment makes it sound like it would be

EX QUAKER
Reply to  Justaswimmer
3 years ago

I appreciate your politeness and I understand where you’re coming from. I think the difference between my view and a sexist view is that I’m saying temperamental differences between men and women may play a factor in what professions they choose; I’m in no way claiming that women SHOULD be relegated to certain positions because I believe all women equal the average. I’ve spent a long time in the swimming world and some of the most amazing coaches I’ve ever seen (including my own mother) have been incredible women. I’m just interested in understanding the issue without jumping to conclusions, and I don’t think that suggesting there might be multiple factors is the same thing as me denying the reality… Read more »

EX QUAKER
Reply to  Justaswimmer
3 years ago

To be fair, I may not have articulated my position well enough. None of this was intended to be a denial of sexism or the reality that women face socially-imposed constraints that reduce ease of access to certain positions. Of course that’s true. But it’s a very totalitarian view to claim that’s the ONLY factor in why men and women may be represented differently across different professions.

ClassicSwim
Reply to  EX QUAKER
3 years ago

Swimming scored lowest of all tiers. I’d say focus on obvious improvement and don’t let the scientific study get in the way of immediate progress opportunities.

There’s nothing about the physical sport of swimming that keeps women’s from being head coaches as compared to, say, lacrosse.

Patrick
Reply to  Justaswimmer
3 years ago

To be fair, his original post said that what was needed was “a multivariate analysis to see what was biological and what was more sinister.” He never said that there was no sexism. He just suggested that there’s reason to doubt that a 50-50 split is to be expected.

re lawson
3 years ago

Is this a reflection of merit or sexism? If women should be hired because they are women isn’t that a form of sexim?

SwimObserver
Reply to  re lawson
3 years ago

I see this argument a lot. And I know that it’s an easy out. But let’s put aside our preconceived notions here.

When we’re comparing then coaches of women’s sports across NCAA swimming…what is fundamentally different about swimming than the sports of lacrosse or field hockey or softball or golf or basketball where those sports are doing considerably better than swimming? What makes female field hockey coaches considerably more qualified in their sport than female swimming coaches? If you can answer that, then maybe you’ve rooted out a layer of institutionalized sexism. Is it self-perpetuating? Are all the people at the top men, so they don’t promote women to get the experience they need? More women are swimming than men,… Read more »

Ex Quaker
Reply to  SwimObserver
3 years ago

Correlation does not imply causation.

BKP
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Exactly. Basic economic principles at play here; I wish more people spent the time to learn them.

I looked through the D1 report linked in this article and it is clear the author(s) didn’t dive that deep in to the data. One glaring omission, where is the data on the application process, and more importantly the male to female ratio of applicants for these coaching positions??

I’m hoping that maybe these are just summaries of the full reports? I wouldn’t call a 6 page report “comprehensive”

SwimObserver
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Got it. So no matter what information you’re presented with, unless you receive a letter drafted by Mark Emmert and signed by Gregg Troy, Greg Meehan, Eddie Reese, and Braden Holloway, where they all agree to hire no more than 1 female coach per staff, there is not a single piece of information that will ever appear that will convince you that there is sexism in hiring women.

That’s a really depressing way to go to life, to just make up your mind at some point and never waver. But, it’s your prerogative to be that way. It’s also my prerogative to not worry about your opinion, since it’s not founded on anything real or substantive.

(Unless you’re a coach… Read more »

Ex Quaker
Reply to  SwimObserver
3 years ago

That’s not at all what I said.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  SwimObserver
3 years ago

We have the same goal- we both want a more fair representation of women in coaching positions. I just don’t believe that “fair” necessarily means 50/50 ratio across the board. Some positions may attract more women, while others more men.

Anonymoose
Reply to  SwimObserver
3 years ago

It’s funny (it’s not) but you do exactly what you acuse bkp of. Your whole second paragraph lmao (again, actually not funny at all)

Admin
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

But correlation also doesn’t imply a lack of causation. Correlation warrants more investigation to determine if causation does in fact exist.

Experimental results aren’t easily possible. You can’t set up 100 double blind coaching staffs and see who gets hired. Maybe you could sit swim coaches down for interviews with voice-modulated individuals and see how their hiring practices change as compared to when they know the gender of the interviewee. I can’t imagine many real coaches will submit to that.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

That’s completely fair. I’m just usually an advocate of not jumping to the worst conclusions. The statistics may never be completely settled (as is the case in most social science research) but these questions need to be explored carefully without ideological preconceptions. And I strongly believe that a letter grade system based purely on the numbers is not the way to do that- wrestling is a good example, for the reasons I’ve detailed above.

ClassicSwim
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Let’s say for argument sake that the natural line is 40/60. Still pretty bad.

Why are you spending your energy on not highlighting the cause of our 40/60 underperformance?

Just Saying....
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Braden:

From what I could see, If you look at the SwimSwam Swimulator rate of improvement data for men or women swim coaches that lead a program, there does not seem to be a difference at all when it comes to improvement over a college career. (teams) One coaching staff really does not do any better than an other from a rate of improvement in performance (verses winning or losing stats) standpoint so it should really come down to who seems to be a good fit for that particular institutions culture.

Guy
Reply to  SwimObserver
3 years ago

Considering there is no men’s field hockey or softball would lead to many more female field hockey and softball coaches. You used a bad example. Stick with the golf and basketball argument.

Devo
Reply to  Guy
3 years ago

You beat me to it. It’s hard to draw analogies where mens and womens teams don’t exist in the same sport. Similarly, where both genders fall under the same head coach. I get the concept behind the study, but there is so much ‘noise’ in it I struggle to find meaningful data.

Jmanswimfan
Reply to  re lawson
3 years ago

Women who are as qualified for jobs are usually passed over by men.

jay
Reply to  Jmanswimfan
3 years ago

based on what

Ole 99
Reply to  jay
3 years ago

History?

jay
Reply to  jay
3 years ago

Yes, but he/she made it sound like its the case in other careers? I was just wondering what they meant and how they knew it

Jmanswimfan
Reply to  jay
3 years ago

It is the case in other career 🤦

jay
Reply to  Jmanswimfan
3 years ago

Based on what? Ive already asked you lmao

Jmanswimfan
Reply to  jay
3 years ago

It’s mind blowing you think that it is isolated to only one sector. Really shows how ingrained sexism is in our society

jay
Reply to  Jmanswimfan
3 years ago

It’s mind blowing that you haven’t told me HOW you know it

Swimmer Brent
3 years ago

When I was at Georgetown in the early 00s, we had something even more rare…a female head coach of a MEN’S D1 team

Bulldogz
Reply to  Swimmer Brent
3 years ago

They have that @ Bryant University right now and she does an incredible job with them. Just graduated an Olympian and former MAAC Swimmer of the Year.

Aquatics
Reply to  Swimmer Brent
3 years ago

McKendree U has a woman as the head coach of the men’s water polo team.

WakyMak
Reply to  Torrey Hart
3 years ago

Great. So you can name one or two. But it remains at that: one or two.

PantherSwim
Reply to  Swimmer Brent
3 years ago

Eastern Illinois D1 has a female head coach for both the men’s s and women’s team! She is start year five with them!

Billy
3 years ago

I think colleges and universities should hire the best and most qualified person for the open coaching position regardless of gender. If the best candidate is female, hire her. If the best candidate is male, hire him. JMHO.

JLB
Reply to  Billy
3 years ago

Totally agree with what you are saying but don’t forget no body gets head coaching jobs without putting in years of work. If right now most head coaches are men than a female has to work for a man who controls her schedule before she becomes qualified to be a head coach. Many don’t survive to the point if they have a family. Sadly many head coaches in our sport are not great at balancing life and family. USA swimming and college swimming need to work together to set up prolonged dead/no contact periods for our college coaches to get real down time. Our sport is light years behind many others. Field hockey is a 3 month season to swimming’s… Read more »

dave
Reply to  Billy
3 years ago

Making them interview a variety of candidates similar to the Rooney rule is fair but past that I don’t really see another solution. Most schools already do this anyways.

First part was not quite the same as obviously the best candidates are not being picked for government if they are trying to disenfranchise voters.

Guy
Reply to  Billy
3 years ago

Fighting sexism with sexism! Nice!

coachj
Reply to  Billy
3 years ago

But see, they dont.

Greg
3 years ago

Maybe I missed it in the report……………I would be interested to know what the total number / percentage of female coaches is in those sports. How different is that number / percentage from the head coach number / percentage?

dave
Reply to  Greg
3 years ago

I think this is way overlooked. Even at the club level, the number of male coaches vastly outnumbers females. If you looked at % of female coaches in the field and compared that to % of female head coaches and the % was vastly different then maybe we have a better argument.

W3T
Reply to  dave
3 years ago

If you look at USA Swimming’s numbers about half of registered coaches are women. Very few are able to get out of the age group coaching ranks.

Do re mi
3 years ago

Given the fact that almost all, if not all, DIII programs are combined, that doesn’t seem fair that an A is 70+. If they want true equality to exist in this case it should be between 45-55 of the coaches women. While these are not the numbers, I think it is something they might have omitted and might be a slanting the data.

Cynic
3 years ago

Many schools have combined Men’s and Women’s teams, which is rare in other sports except, maybe, track and field. That can easily account for some portion of the difference as compared to other sports. One can argue that women should have half of those jobs as well, though.

On a more general (maybe tangential) note, I think terms like “sexism” and “racism” are thrown around far too readily and have become too broad. Is it an “-ism” to acknowledge differences? Some would say yes, but that doesn’t mean that there are not differences. Women and men are different, in a lot of ways. With regard to race, I think differences are more likely based on societal factors, but there are… Read more »

Anonymoose
Reply to  Cynic
3 years ago

Thank you, i almost lost hope reading many of the other comments on here…

Nathan Smith
Reply to  Cynic
3 years ago

Come on, do you really think there are biological differences that make men or women better coaches? Maybe you’re not racist or sexist, but you sure are talking like one who is going to argue in bad faith.

Cynic
Reply to  Nathan Smith
3 years ago

Yes, there might be. It would make an interesting (but very complex) study. There might actually be biological differences that make women better coaches than men. There might be no significant difference. I really don’t know…I do know that men and women are different, and not just based on their genitals. My point here is that socially, we have a generation that is compelled to assign labels to everything, and then assign blame for inequities to those labeled groups. The extent to which that blame is extrapolated becomes ridiculous.

My advice: if there is an inequitable situation that affects you, fight through it, be successful, be a positive role model and shed light on your struggle. It will inspire… Read more »

Swimming Fan
Reply to  Cynic
3 years ago

You raise some very good points. Not long ago I was thinking about the implications of the notion of “white privilege” and what those espousing that notion were seeking to accomplish. The gist of the term appears to be that non-whites, blacks really, have been historically disadvantaged over whites in the pursuit of many economic and other opportunities. Certainly that’s true historically and historically it was true based upon skin color. Whether the disadvantage exists today because of skin exclusively, partly or minimally is open to debate. What troubles me is what appears to be the “ask” from those decrying “white privilege” the loudest. That ask is for special treatment, not equal treatment, but special treatment so that more economic… Read more »

Swim Mom
Reply to  Cynic
3 years ago

I agree with the comments above and below. Read up on the Harvard admission lawsuit regarding Asian Americans. In attempt to improve fairness for one group, another group believes they are being treated unfairly.

Former D1 top 20 woman swim coach
3 years ago

This is a partial repost from another article. It is my opinion that women coaches are being driven out of division 1 by The Good Old Boys Club and men acting like pigs. It is not because there are not qualified women coaches. D1 is arguably the highest level, other than Olympic staff, for a coach to reach. I personally was a division 1 multiple All American and Olympic trials qualifying swimmer myself, lots of assistant coaching experience before I got a head job at the division 1 level, a master’s degree in exercise science, top 20 success multiple years at the D1 level. My point is I was well qualified to be a division 1 head coach and had… Read more »

Swimmmer

I actually want you to get started on the USA Swimming Olympic staff….. please.

ScottishDragon

The amount of blind sexism and hatred for men existing in your post is mind-numbing

Swimmer A
Reply to  ScottishDragon
3 years ago

Try and see things from the other side

Swimmer A
Reply to  Swimmer A
3 years ago

That comment was for ScottishDragon btw

ClassicSwim
Reply to  ScottishDragon
3 years ago

Scottish – was really surprised by your comment. I didn’t read that in her post at all. Which point are you referring to?

jojonv

There are a lot of “pig coaches” at the age group level, too. But, leaving coaching because of it is not an option for me. What would that teach all the young age group swimmers about appropriate behavior, acceptable conflict resolution and professionalism?
Kids learn through experience and observation- and your response is a model that kids (age group or collegiate) will follow. Address the behavior immediately, report it and follow through to ensure that change occurred. You’re scenario is assault and you should have followed through… Does it make it a little uncomfortable? Perhaps. But if you stand on the side of truth, you can bear the disdain of a few random people.
I am so thankful… Read more »

Dude36

Waaa-waaa a sad commentary. If you were top 10 and had made the Olympic team…then maybe, just maybe you would have been accepted into the “inner circle”. Sounds like yo hubby hides behind his wifey?

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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