WASHINGTON -- It
has not made the Drudge Report so it lacks much credibility, but the rumor
on Capitol Hill is that a congressional taskforce is preparing legislation
mandating diversity in college athletics. Feelers are out to several influential
political and sports figures.
"We're modeling it after the University of Michigan policies and the recent
Supreme Court ruling," said an insider. "There'll be no way to overturn this."
He told this column the legislation is designed to "take diversity to another
level," and will ensure that college athletics more closely reflect the nation's
"How could there be any opposition," he asked, "other than from conservatives
who think it's unconstitutional or immoral or something? Diversity is important,
and there isn't enough in athletics. We have balance among men and women
because of Title IX legislation, and this simply applies that to race."
He said a system is being developed so that no sport will be racially under-represented
-- African-Americans in golf, for example -- but that every sport will be
as balanced as possible.
Schools will be required to recruit under-represented racial groups for all
their teams, men's and women's, and those who do not achieve "reasonable"
diversity after a specified time will risk losing federal funds. Detailed
diversity audits will be required from athletic diversity administrators
"Obviously, we've got a lot of details to work out," said our source.
"But face it. There aren't many black kids playing water polo or golf. How
many black guys other than Tiger Woods have you seen in college golf? Just
because you aren't rich or can't afford private lessons doesn't mean you
shouldn't have the opportunity to play.
"And how many Chinese point guards are there? It's a national disgrace. Check
every champion water polo team for the past 20 years, and I'll bet my paycheck
you won't find three Hispanics. Is that fair? Where is the diversity in that?"
A Bush Administration official (who requested anonymity, as did all our sources)
would not comment until seeing actual legislation, "but we supported diversity
in the University of Michigan case, and I see no reason why we would not
support it in athletics. We are very much in favor of diversity."
Preliminary reports are that not everyone is pleased, however.
Kelvin Sampson, coach of college basketball power the University of Oklahoma,
with one white and eleven black players, is reported to have exclaimed, "You
gotta be kidding! You mean I'd have to put, what, 70% white players out there?
Guys who can't jump over a phone book, and run like they're wearing cement
shoes? That's just (bleep). You put guys on the team because of ability,
not to fill some bonehead quota!"
Jesse Jackson, usually a strong advocate of diversity, reportedly said, "Giving
persons favored treatment because of race is wrong. Its basis is racist and
wrong on its faces, er, face."
Insiders said Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of the Congressional Black
Caucus called it "a move back to pre-Civil War days racism. This is outrageous
and reprehensible. Black athletes are much better in football and basketball,
and if we give preferential treatment to whites, it will deny African-Americans
their constitutional right to play those sports."
However, our source said Jackson-Lee would be willing to consider enforced
diversity among sports under-represented by African-Americans "because there
is an obvious and unfair imbalance."
A person close to South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle told us he expressed "great
sadness," saying that "mandating that certain ethnic groups receive special
consideration is not the way we do it in America."
He is said to have told an aide, "Athletes should be judged by their abilities.
What if we did this for academ…well, anyway, I would oppose it."
And a member of New York Senator Hillary Clinton's inner circle said Hillary
was concerned that Diversity Councils established to oversee diversity implementation
would be required to have both politically conservative and liberal representatives,
and as many women as men.
She was quoted as saying, "It's only right to have as many women as men because
Title IX requires it. But requiring them to have conservatives is blatantly
unconstitutional and another example of George W. Bush trying to shove his
extreme right-wing political philosophy down the throats of all Americans."
When a staffer told her President Bush was not involved, she supposedly said,
"Whatever. I support diversity as much as the next woman, but this is going
We will keep you posted. Meanwhile, keep your eye on Drudge.
Dennis Campbell is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to Internet and print publications.