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Common Ground

2020 NCAA Inclusion Summer Series

The office of inclusion has launched a summer series of inclusion-focused online programs in each of its five core areas: disability, international, LGBTQ, race/ethnicity and women. The purpose of this series is to build community, develop knowledge and skillsets, provide practical takeaways, and empower participants’ efforts on equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives on their campus.

Common Ground: Moving from Personal Transformation to Institutional Action

The office of inclusion has launched a summer series of inclusion-focused online programs for individuals who were registered for the 2020 Inclusion Forum. The first online program, which centered the Common Ground program, featured members of the Common Ground Leadership Team discussing the move from personal transformation to institutional action.

The Common Ground initiative was established in 2014 to provide LGBTQ individuals, individuals of faith at public and private NCAA member institutions, LGBTQ organizations and faith-based organizations an opportunity to discuss commonalities and differences and learn how to work more cohesively within athletics.

A deep divide exists between some people who support equal rights for the LGBTQ community and those who oppose these social and legal changes, in part because of deeply held religious beliefs. Not surprisingly, this dynamic extends to intercollegiate athletics, specifically between the LBGTQ community and some faith-based institutions that are members of the NCAA in all three divisions. The differences of belief between faith communities and the LGBTQ community can pose a challenge to athletics programs that are committed to the inclusion and well-being of all student-athletes and coaches.

To address this issue in the spirit of inclusion, the NCAA in November 2014 invited students and administrators from a variety of institutions, including faith-based ones, to a think tank to begin exploring how to bridge these gaps and find common ground. The goal: establish inclusive and respectful athletics environments for participants of all sexual orientations, gender identities and faith perspectives. 

Appropriately titled “Common Ground,” the discussion began the dialogue between athletics and university officials by offering practical solutions and initiatives on how to break down barriers of fear, lack of trust, misunderstanding and judgment between these communities and individuals.