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Champions of Diversity

Introduced by the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee in 2015, the Champions of Diversity and Inclusion recognition honors individuals for their work in supporting ethnic minorities and other underrepresented populations in athletics. These individuals display a commitment to advocating and advancing others that goes beyond their profession.

Scott Pioli

Advocate and former NFL executive

Pioli, best known as a successful NFL executive who won NFL Executive of the Year multiple times and was vice president of player personnel for three Super Bowl-winning seasons with the New England Patriots, is an influential mentor and advocate for college sports’ most underrepresented groups: women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.

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Jim Phillips

Northwestern athletics director

Philips has been applauded for his “consistent, purposeful efforts to create a diverse, inclusive community” within Northwestern athletics and is committed to taking the extra step to ensure he has a field of diverse and qualified job candidates to choose from.

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Myles Brand

Former NCAA president

Brand, who led the NCAA as president from 2002 until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2009, promoted the idea that college sports can pave the way for a society that embraces diversity and includes a broad spectrum of voices in its leadership. He also championed diversifying the head coaching ranks in college football, and he supported national office programs and coaching academies working to increase the pool of qualified minority candidates.

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Bernard Franklin

Retired NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer

Franklin, who promoted inclusion efforts throughout his 14 years at the NCAA national office, played pivotal roles in the Association’s Accelerating Academic Success Program, the Inclusion Forum and the presidential pledge supporting diversity and gender equity in college sports. He championed equitable treatment for LGBTQ student-athletes and fought for the rights of international student-athletes and athletes with disabilities.

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Richard Lapchick

Human rights activist, author and director of both the DeVos Sport Business Management Program and The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida

Lapchick served on the front lines of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s, and he is often called “the racial conscience of sport.” He is the author of the Racial and Gender Report Card, which assesses hiring practices in professional and college sports, and he established the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, a group that uses sports as an agent for positive change.

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Kevin White

Duke athletics director

White has promoted diverse hiring practices at all six schools where he has served as athletics director. He insists all final talent pools must include a member of the underrepresented population within that specific area, an approach that has resulted in women and men of various races, colors and backgrounds thriving under White at all of his career stops.

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Joe Castiglione

Oklahoma athletics director

Castiglione has prioritized the advancement of diversity and inclusion within the athletics department and campus community since arriving at Oklahoma in 1998. Among his initiatives is the Athletics Diversity Council Graduate Assistant Program, which rotates four diverse graduate students through various roles within the athletics department to gain practical work experience while earning master’s degrees.

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Betsy Alden

President of the search firm Alden & Associates and a former college athletics administrator

Alden is the founder of Alden & Associates, which remains the only woman-owned executive search and consulting firm in intercollegiate athletics. She strives to ensure ethnic minorities gain proper opportunities in the upper echelons of college sports.

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Patti Phillips

CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators)

Phillips helped Women Leaders in College Sports launch the Women of Color Initiative to address needs and barriers that women of color experience in college sports. Throughout her career, she has remained committed to the advancement of women in sports leadership positions and has never stopped looking for new methods to level the playing field for all.

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Dan Jones

Former Ole Miss chancellor

Jones, who served as chancellor from 2009 to 2015, helped lead efforts at Ole Miss to modernize and add historical context to cultural symbols on campus. He created a vice chancellor-level position for diversity and inclusion and renamed a campus street called Confederate Drive.

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Ross Bjork

Ole Miss athletics director

Bjork, who has served as athletics director since 2012, has promoted racial equity within the athletics department at Ole Miss and has encouraged dialogue on the topic of race. His efforts have included naming a space in an athletics facility after the first two black football players at Ole Miss.

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Submit a Nomination for a Champion of Diversity here.