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Blueprint Behind the Promise

A pledge to promote diversity and inclusion is the first step of many

Over the last six months, two-thirds of NCAA campus and conference leaders have pledged their commitment to promoting diversity and gender equity in college athletics.

The Pledge in Action

The primer on leadership diversity and inclusion in the workplace shares practical tips for athletics departments, including the three below:

Recruiting: Consider expanding your recruiting pool to include individuals currently working at minority-serving institutions. Quite often, individuals from these and other institutions with lower media profiles have nontraditional portfolios, but are well-positioned to be successful.

Providing oversight: Be clear on expectations concerning diverse searches to all involved (such as a search committee or external search firm). This may include the request for a strategic plan from the search team detailing how the members will ensure the review of a diverse candidate pool.

Community engagement: Create real opportunities to engage with diverse groups beyond community service (for example, offer a side-by-side work experience with minority or women business owners). An effort like this creates an opportunity to gain appreciation for the diversity in the community.

Learn more about the diversity pledge and access the primer online at

Signing the pledge, of course, was the easy part — next comes the real action. Using the commitment as a springboard, various NCAA leaders are knee-deep in efforts that help put power behind the promise.

The voluntary pledge, open for every president, chancellor and conference commissioner in each division to sign, was one of the first steps of a broader initiative backed by the NCAA Board of Governors aimed at addressing the underrepresentation of people of color and women in athletics leadership positions.

“We know we must do better, and we believe that by acting collectively we can do better,” Board of Governors vice chair and Susquehanna President Jay Lemons said in August when the pledge was approved.

Under the guidance of the Board of Governors’ Ad Hoc Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity, NCAA inclusion released online in April a primer on leadership diversity and inclusion, complete with best practices and real-world tips to help campus leaders create and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce. The primer is designed to provide a high-level framework for signatories to make their commitment a reality through recruitment, development, retention and other workplace processes.

Additional resources will be shared with members in the coming months, as NCAA inclusion and leadership development staff bring to life a board-endorsed plan that includes customized programming and professional development opportunities for ethnic minority and female athletics administrators and coaches.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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