Dr. Richard Lapchick's Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport had given the NBA high marks on racial inclusion—that is, prior to the release of Donald Sterling’s comments on race. Now the NBA has retained Lapchick to help prove how much damage the Sterling controversy has wreaked on the league.
Lapchick's institute, based at the University of Central Florida, grades sports organizations according to their racial and gender equality. In 2013, it gave the NBA an A+ for its racially proactive hiring practices, including 35.7% of all employees in the league office being people of color and 43% of the league’s head coaches being African American (the 2nd highest percent in the league’s history). According to the report, 76% of NBA’s players were African American in the 2012-2013 season.
But after the fallout from the release of the Sterling recording, the NBA hired Lapchick for another purpose: to prove that Sterling had damaged the league in a manner that merited his forced removal. ESPN reports:
The league hired Lapchick to analyze the effect that Donald Sterling's words have had on the league and his report was included in the charges presented to Sterling. It was based on Lapchick's report that the league concluded in its charges levied on Sterling that his words contributed to "significantly undermining the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion" and proved to be "damaging (to) the NBA's relationship with its fans."
Sterling, technically still the owner of the LA Clippers, has until May 27th to respond to the NBA’s charges issued last week. Before the formal charges were given, Sterling’s attorney threatened to sue the league for violating his due process rights. However, Sterling has now given permission to his wife, Shelly Sterling, to sell the team.
While the Sterlings have already reportedly received at least six overtures from buyers, as ESPN reports, it is uncertain whether the league will allow an independent sale to take place. On June 3rd, the NBA board of governors will vote on whether to officially strip the Sterlings of all rights to determine the teams’ future, which could include deciding who purchases the team.