Commission report determines it’s time for racial reckoning in college sports

The authors said the NCAA also should invest in Black athletes while they are on campus, including pouring resources into programs that support African Americans.

At its best, sports can be an arena where everyone’s differences and skills are respected and prized and can come together in an affirmation of the value of talent, teamwork, perseverance, and discipline, wrote the authors of a new report on racial equity in college sports.

“Yet sadly, that’s often not the case in intercollegiate sports,” wrote the authors of the report titled, ‘Achieving Racial Equity In College Sports.’

The report, released by the independent Knight Commission, features a call to the NCAA and its member colleges and universities to improve and enhance the academic performance and career chances of African American athletes who obtain sports-related jobs at much lower rates than Whites.

The Knight Commission, comprised of university administrators and former athletes, focused on racial equity for the report, which also included the experiences of over 80,000 African American athletes who compete in the NCAA.

The report outlined policy changes in four core areas that the NCAA and its member institutions should make to achieve racial equity in sports:

  • Closing educational opportunity gaps to create equitable pathways for Black college athletes’ success during and after college
  • Holding institutions accountable in recruitment and hiring to achieve diversity and equity in athletics leadership
  • Investing in programs that support and enhance Black athletes’ college experience and promote inclusion and belonging
  • Creating more equitable opportunities for Black college athletes to assume leadership roles, especially in advocacy and governance

The report also calls for the NCAA to dramatically boost financial support for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Accelerating Academic Success Program.

“The Commission’s report comes in the midst of a historic reckoning on race and a rise in Black student activism on college campuses,” said former basketball standout Len Elmore, who chaired the Task Force that guided the Knight Commission Report, in a press release. “This moment demands transformational actions that specifically improve the college experience for Black athletes, coaches, and athletics personnel throughout all competitive divisions of college sports.

“The Knight Commission’s report lays out a road map for how the CFP, and the NCAA and its member institutions can turn pledges into policies that do just that.”

The Knight Commission urged the NCAA and its member schools to address educational and professional opportunity gaps between Black and White athletes.

The report urged more recruiting and the hiring of minorities and those from underrepresented groups.

The authors said the NCAA also should invest in Black athletes while they are on campus, including pouring resources into programs that support African Americans.

“Both NCAA reform and institutional reform of racial equity policies and procedures are long overdue,” the authors wrote. “It is time now to pursue a more equitable and socially just model of college sports that provides fairer and more diverse opportunities for all college athletes, including Black athletes.”

The commission held a public town hall on May 24. The virtual event included a discussion of the report and a question-and-answer session.

Click here to view the full report.

Click here to register for the virtual town hall.

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