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Common Ground

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 religious beliefs. 

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.

The NCAA Office of Inclusion hosted Common Ground II in November 2016 as a follow up to this discussion. Common Ground II continued this important conversation on how representatives of the LGBTQ and faith-based communities can work more cohesively in college sports and higher education, in support of the NCAA’s mission to serve its campuses and student-athletes representing the many diverse missions and philosophies of higher education.

Common Ground III will be held in November 2017.

For more background on this issue, read the Common Ground think tank report from 2014 and the one from 2016. See also the NCAA press release from November 15, 2016, and a video from the second Common Ground.