The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport awarded the NBA an A+ for racial hiring practices, an A- for gender hiring practice and an overall A in a report card released Tuesday.

The NBA’s recognition comes less than a week after Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra became the first Asian coach in any major U.S. men’s professional sport to lead his team to a championship.

Also, for the first time in the history of any U.S. professional sports league, more than half of the NBA’s head coaches – 53 percent — were minorities.

“The standard for racial and gender diversity is led by (NBA) Commissioner David Stern,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the institute and the primary author of the report card. “He has continually been at the forefront of the issue and has led the charge for the NBA’s progress in racial and gender equality, which featured an historic set of accomplishments in 2012.”

In the NBA league office, 34 percent of all professional employees are people of color and 42 percent are women. The League Office also had 39 women serving as vice presidents in the 2011-2012 season.

On the court, New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who is Asian, enjoyed a sensational season and the national spotlight before being sidelined by an injury.

The NBA continued to have the most racially diverse group of players of the major U.S. professional sports. People of color represented 82 percent of all players, and 78 percent of all players were African-American. The NBA also has a strong international contingent with 17 percent of all players from nations other than the United States.

A pioneer for racial equality known as the “social conscience for sport,” Lapchick produces annual reports evaluating how well professional and college sports advance racial and gender diversity. As the director of UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management program, Lapchick launched the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which publishes annual Racial and Gender Report Cards for professional and college sports.

Lapchick co-authored the NBA report with DeVos program students Antoinette Lecky and Aaron Trigg.