EDITORIAL: Commend Marquette Athletics for hiring Shaka Smart

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Marquette Athletics hired Shaka Smart as the new head men’s basketball coach last week. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette University should be commended for its decision to hire Shaka Smart as the new men’s basketball coach in order to improve the program and increase diverse recruitment on campus. 

Vice President and Director of Athletics Bill Scholl announced March 26 that Smart, former men’s basketball head coach at the University of Texas–Austin from 2015 to 2021 and Virginia Commonwealth University from 2009 to 2015, is the new Marquette men’s basketball coach. 

The university’s decision to hire Smart showcases its initiative to improve the program, as Smart led his teams to the NCAA championships eight out of 12 seasons and a 2011 Final Four. 

This announcement came one week after the university parted ways with former men’s basketball head coach Steve Wojciechowski March 19. 

Smart, who is the 18th head coach, will be the first Black head coach in Marquette basketball history. 

According to the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, the number of employed faculty of color has increased since fall 2016. In fall 2016, there were 162 faculty of color and as of the fall 2020 semester, there were 212 faculty of color. 

This trend is similar for staff hiring at Marquette, as well. In fall 2016, there were 314 staff of color, and in fall 2020, there were 339 staff of color. 

While there have been efforts to increase diverse recruitment of faculty and staff at Marquette, these efforts have not been extended regarding athletics leadership.

In Marquette Athletics, specifically, recruiting diverse leadership has been scarce. Apart from Smart, there have been only three other diverse hires. These include women’s basketball head coach Megan Duffy and women’s lacrosse head coach Meredith Black, who are the only female head coaches, as well as women’s soccer head coach Frank Pelaez, who is a native of Colombia. 

In order to make campus a more welcoming and inclusive place, Marquette Athletics must follow other departments’ lead and continue to improve diversity on its hires. 

Out of the last three openings, though, Marquette Athletics has hired diversely: Smart, Pelaez to replace Markus Roeders in December 2019 and Duffy to replace Carolyn Kieger in April 2019. Hiring Smart, along with Duffy, Black and Pelaez is a positive step in that direction. 

Marquette Athletics should consider increasing diversity when hiring other staff in the department, such as athletic trainers. Additionally, diversity and inclusion must be at the forefront of recruiting student athletes of color. 

In order to make campus a more welcoming and inclusive place, we know that there is a lot left to do, including within our own organization. However, Marquette Athletics should follow other departments’ lead and continue to improve diversity on its hires. And hiring Smart, along with Duffy, Black and Pelaez is a positive step in that direction.

Improving diversity when hiring staff on campus cannot be the responsibility of a single department, it is all employers’ responsibility. 


Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and nine additional top editors across the organization.