The McLendon Foundation, the scholarship branch of the national coalition of athletic directors dedicated to the assistance of meritorious minority students, has decided by unanimous vote to honor Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig with its latest program.
Concurrently, Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Thursday was named recipient of the inaugural Allan H. (Bud) Selig Mentoring Award, to be presented on Dec. 18 at a luncheon in Cleveland.
The award will be presented annually to a deserving athletics administrator in recognition of creating opportunities in the field for young minorities, and it recognizes Selig's role in the continuing diversification of Major League Baseball.
The decision to honor Selig was unanimous among the 15 minority Division I-A athletic directors who comprise the McLendon Foundation Steering Committee.
"When our committee looked at the body of work created toward diversity and equality for minorities on Commissioner Selig's watch, this became an easy and obvious choice," said Kevin Anderson, Army athletic director and chairman of the steering committee.
"Commissioner Selig, by placing these initiatives on the front burner of Major League Baseball," Anderson added, "has helped raise the awareness of diversity issues that occur, not only in the board rooms of professional organizations, but in the day-to-day occurrences of conference offices,
colleges and universities."
Minority participation in baseball has been on a steady rise during Selig's tenure. According to the latest data from MLB, minorities comprise 39 percent of coaching positions, while females account for 34 percent of front-office staffs.
Overall, minorities' share of all MLB front-office positions has risen from two percent in 1989 to more than 22 percent.
"Baseball is a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, and it is an honor to be recognized for efforts being made throughout the league to bring greater diversity to every aspect of our game," Selig said. "Since assuming the role of Interim Commissioner in September 1992 and the Commissioner in July 1998, I have made diversity and equal employment opportunity a top priority.
"We have made progress," Selig added, "but we still have much work to do, and I remain committed to bringing about positive change."
The McLendon Foundation Steering Committee also voted to honor at the Dec. 18 luncheon a group of six minority pioneers in the fields of collegiate and professional athletics. Those honorees will include Bill White, the former All-Star first baseman who rose to become president of the National League.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.