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Bowling Green earns diversity and inclusion award

School to receive NCAA/MOAA honor at 2017 NCAA Convention

Bowling Green State University’s athletics department has earned the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association’s 2017 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. The department will receive the honor at the NCAA Convention in January in Nashville, Tennessee.

The award is a partnership between the two organizations to recognize and celebrate the initiatives, policies and practices of colleges, universities and/or athletics conference offices that embrace diversity and inclusion. Past honorees have been recognized for efforts including community service, professional development, hiring practices and programming activities that enhance opportunities for people of diverse cultures, background and experiences.

Bowling Green athletics has been proactive in its efforts to engage students in initiatives that promote diversity and address anti-discrimination. The university’s student-run social justice program, We Are One Team, has brought together more than 25 different offices, departments, activist groups and student organizations who are connected by a common goal of eliminating social injustice and creating an inclusive environment through sports. The program also addresses gender inequality; racism; sexism; disability; body image; stereotyping; bullying; and lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and questioning issues. 

Bowling Green has used We Are One Team to foster dialogue regarding social justice issues and awareness on campus and within the community. The school has hosted panel sessions, a social media campaign to stand against discrimination and a walk/run event to bring more attention to issues of social injustice and how to solve many of the current challenges. Originally created in 2015, the program has gained momentum by bridging values of inclusion, diversity and acceptance, while also promoting friendship between groups that may harbor biases on campus. We Are One Team also has a leadership board that meets monthly to review diversity-related events at the university and in the community to create projects that promote inclusion.

Additionally, the school has implemented programs that focus on equal access; training efforts for staff that promote inclusive learning and working environments; monitoring systems that keep the university in compliance with federal and state equal opportunity and nondiscrimination laws and regulations; Title IX compliance training; and classes to educate students and staff on policy.

“We are deeply honored to receive the 2017 NCAA/MOAA Award for Diversity and Inclusion,” said Mary Ellen Mazey, Bowling Green president. “Respect for one another is one of Bowling Green State University’s core values; it serves as a guidepost as we recognize and celebrate diversity and inclusion in everything we do. I am proud that BGSU and We Are One Team are being recognized as leaders in this important effort.”

“We are thrilled and humbled to receive this prestigious award for our work with We Are One Team at BGSU,” said Yannick Kluch, founder and president of We Are One Team. “I would like to thank the NCAA for this honor. Our work would not be possible without the hard work of our student leaders, the BGSU athletics staff, and our over 25 partners across the university. What unites us is a passion for social justice and sport, and I’m beyond happy to see this passion be rewarded and recognized on a national level.”

Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement, recognized the efforts of the university and We Are One Team to directly address cultural issues on campus and in the community. “Identifying and addressing inclusion issues becomes challenging because you have to take people out of their comfort zone to create solutions. Bowling Green State University, its officials and its students are educating people in a nontraditional way to help close the gaps that exist around diversity and inclusion.”

“The Minority Opportunities Athletic Association is honored to recognize the commitment to diversity and the efforts of Bowling Green State University and its athletics director, Bob Moosbrugger,” said Mario Moccia, president of MOAA and New Mexico State University director of athletics. “This award encompasses what each of our departments strives to emulate: a culture of diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally.”

The NCAA and MOAA also awarded honorable mention to Purchase College, State University of New York; the University of Maryland, College Park, and its athletics department; and the U.S. Air Force Academy for their ongoing inclusive efforts that promote diversity. 

Members of the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics and the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee select the award recipients each year. Past honorees have included Northern Illinois University, Colorado State University, Georgia Regents University (now Augusta University), and the North Coast Athletic Conference, which received the inaugural award in 2013.