Fairness for Black College Athletes Independent Group Sends Report


Task Force Outlines Four-Point Plan to Address Systemic Policies and Practices That Disproportionately Create Barriers to Success for Black College Athletes

WASHINGTON – The Knight Commission has a plan to create racial equity for black college athletes, according to a press release from the commission.

The task force commission releases a report calling on universities, athletic conferences, the College Football Playoff (CFP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to take decisive action to combat the systemic policies and practices that create obstacles to black college success. athletes.

The report called, Achieve racial equity in college sports, outlines a four-point plan to tackle systemic policies and practices that disproportionately create barriers to success for black college athletes, the Knight Commission press release says.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” Knight Commission Chairman Len Elmore said. “This is the roadmap for making commitments and promises and turning them into policy.”

The Knight Commission, founded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 1989, is an independent group leading transformational change to prioritize the education, health, safety and success of college athletes.

Elmore, who is a former University of Maryland and NBA basketball player, is Chairman Len Elmore of the Knight Commission.

“I would like this report to be the start of steps towards equity in varsity athletics,” Elmore said. “Which means black athletes and other athletes of color have the same chances, receive the same opportunities and reach the same level as their white counterparts.”

Elmore is also joined by co-chairs Jacques McClendon, director of player engagement for the Los Angeles Rams, and Shanteona Keys, education manager for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

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The report, delivered to WUSA9, outlines policy changes in four key areas that the NCAA and its member institutions should make to achieve racial equity in sport:

  1. Filling the gap in educational opportunities to create equitable pathways for the success of black college athletes during and after college. These recommendations include the permanent elimination of standardized test scores as an eligibility criterion in athletics and the use instead of a more holistic review of student readiness. (The NCAA is currently reviewing the use of standardized tests to determine eligibility and has suspended the use of test results for three years due to the pandemic). The report also calls on the NCAA to dramatically increase financial support to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as part of the Academic Achievement Accelerator program.
  2. Hold institutions accountable for recruitment and hiring to achieve diversity and equity in sports leadership. Among other recommendations, the report urges conferences and schools to adopt the “Russell Rule” as standard practice (named in honor of Bill Russell and first adopted by the West Coast Conference). The Russell Rule requires each institution to include a member of a traditionally under-represented community in the final candidate pool for sport leadership positions, including athletic director and head coach. Each conference school and conference office would file an annual newsletter on the demographics of sports leadership research and hiring.
  3. Invest in programs that support and enhance the college experience of Black athletes and promote inclusion and belonging. Schools and conferences should establish a network of black alumni and faculty to serve as mentors and provide a dedicated funding stream for summer bridging programs for incoming black college athletes.
  4. Create more equitable opportunities for black college athletes to take on leadership roles, especially in advocacy and governance. Reforms should include establishing mentorship programs outside the athletics department that enrich the development of black athletes and expanding the ranks of college representatives who champion the experiences of black athletes. The report also calls for a safe process for black athletes to report any issues of discrimination or treatment, without fear of reprisal.

In addition to the new action measures, the Commission wishes to stress the importance of allowing athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). While the new NIL opportunities will benefit all athletes, it is expected that the greatest financial benefit will be for the athletes of Division Football Bowl (FBS) and Division I basketball, who count. a higher percentage of black athletes, many of whom face formidable financial constraints. to college.

RELATED: NCAA Board of Directors Backs Allowing College Athletes to Get Paid for Mentions

The Commission is also urging to follow through on its previous proposals to add current college football players, including black college football players, to the CFP board. As reports indicate the CFP plans to expand to include more teams, the Knight Commission renewed its 2017 request to the CFP board to set aside at least one percent of its annual distribution of nearly $ 500 million – a dime of every dollar – to fund initiatives to strengthen leadership diversity in college football and in athletics departments. The CFP does not designate any of its revenues – not a dime – to support national diversity initiatives, and FBS head coaches are among the least diverse groups of all the leaders in Division I, despite the fact that around half of all FBS players are black.

To advance and strengthen collaboration to achieve the equity goals highlighted in its report, the Knight Commission announces that it will provide $ 100,000 in multi-year Challenge grants to fund research demonstrating the impact of interventions. specific on the experience of black athletes and / or areas of defense of black athletes. The Commission plans to reward fellows who demonstrate a partnership between researchers and administrators of the athletics department. Grants will be directed to NCAA Division I, II or III institutions.

This story is largely taken from the press release sent out by the Knight Commission.

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