Athletic Diversity and Inclusion Officers and Institutional Entrepreneurship

Ajhanai C.I. Keaton – University of Louisville
Laura J. Burton – University of Connecticut
Jennifer E. McGarry – University of Connecticut

NCAA Division I athletic departments have pervasive issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A possible remedy is the adoption of Athletic Diversity and Inclusion Officers (ADIO). Diversity leaders are espoused to challenge and address inequitable organizational contexts. The current study examined if Black women ADIOs have the agentic abilities to lead and enact divergent DEI practices in their Division I athletic departments. Drawing upon institutional entrepreneurship, we demonstrate the complexities of leading divergent change related to DEI in Division I NCAA collegiate athletic departments, the difficulties of ADIOs achieving legitimacy, and highlight how dominant organizational actors serve as barriers to ADIO’s introduction of divergent DEI practices. Lastly, the race-gendered identity of ADIOs in this study hindered their ability to achieve a successful subject position. These findings demonstrate that a ADIO’s desire for divergent change, does not guarantee it.