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2016 Award for Diversity and Inclusion winner

The Award for Diversity and Inclusion is a partnership between the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association to recognize and celebrate the initiatives, policies and practices of colleges, universities and/or athletic conference offices that embrace diversity and inclusion. Past honorees have been recognized for efforts that include community service, professional development, hiring practices and programming activities that enhance opportunities for people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences.

The 2016 NCAA Convention marks the fourth annual presentation of the award to an honoree selected by membership representatives from the MOAA, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics and the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee.

Award Winner

Northern Illinois University Intercollegiate Athletics

Northern Illinois athletics earned the award for its campus programs and partnerships in the DeKalb, Illinois, community. The athletics department recently revised its vision statement and strategic plan to reflect a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The department also dedicated one of its core values to inclusion.

To enhance the awareness of equality and diversity issues, Northern Illinois athletics provides its staff and campus administrators with professional development opportunities, including training seminars on Title IX and diversity and inclusion topics, which are facilitated by external constituents and the school’s affirmative action staff. The group has also hosted webinars that cover gender and sexuality topics; programming to increase graduation rates; violence prevention seminars; and programs that bring university, athletics and community cultures together for dialogue. Additionally, the Northern Illinois vice provost’s office funds some programming for athletics staff who work with athletes on a daily basis.

Sean Frazier, Northern Illinois associate vice president and director of athletics, has also been a visible leader in making key decisions to enhance inclusion and diversity. Frazier co-chaired Northern Illinois’ inaugural diversity and inclusion task force, which recommended hiring the university’s first chief diversity officer; co-presented an inaugural campus workshop called “The NIU Experience: A Journey of Discovery into Affirmative Action, Diversity & Equal Opportunity”; and appointed staff within athletics who will specifically monitor diversity, inclusion and equity. Athletics also served as a co-sponsor in collaboration with other campus offices to host a conference called “Diversity: Strengthening the Pillars of Community,” and formed a task force to work on projects that include a diversity and inclusion action plan and a work-life climate survey.

Honorable Mentions

University of California, San Diego athletics department

As one of the University of California, San Diego’s largest and most visible units, the athletics department has taken a leadership role in helping create an environment that contributes positively to the university’s principles of diversity and inclusion. Building upon the UC-San Diego Principles of Community, the athletics department embeds values of inclusion in student-athlete and employee orientations, the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and community outreach. In its hiring practices, the university created a focus on enhancing the work experience of underrepresented groups in staff and coaching positions and increasing outreach within these candidate pools. In addition, the athletics department created a mandatory Inclusion Seminar for all administrative and head coaching staff, and a series of programming dealing with diversity, identity, intent versus impact, and microaggressions for its individual teams. As it works to promote tolerance and inclusion under committed leadership, the athletics department has developed long-lasting partnerships with diverse groups within the greater university.


Kansas Athletics Inc., University of Kansas

Kansas Athletics Inc. at the University of Kansas takes pride in its commitment to developing, implementing and maintaining diversity programs and activities. It provides education, awareness and training to enhance cultural competency within the athletics department and across the entire campus. The Kansas Athletics Diversity Committee launched a comprehensive initiative titled “#ONETEAMKU” aimed developing a culture in which diversity and inclusion are an integral component of the education experience for student-athletes and for the professional development of staff. The initiative includes annual diversity-related training and education for all student-athletes and athletics department staff and promotes the acceptance and celebration of individual differences. The athletics department’s efforts are strengthened through collaborations with many campus and community groups, resulting in shared programming, raised awareness and targeted trainings.