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Educational session highlights efforts to increase inclusion

By Marta Lawrence

Wednesday’s NCAA Convention educational session “NCAA Inclusion Summit…What’s Next?” prompted thoughts on strategic initiatives resulting from the inaugural summit held in September.

Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of membership and student-athlete affairs outlined several key populations and presented specific solutions for increasing their integration into intercollegiate athletics.

Only 9.5 percent of Division I athletics directors are women, Franklin said, and only 2 percent of athletics directors in Division I are minority women.

To that end, the NCAA national office plans to bring together search firm recruiters to increase the applicant pool to include more women and minorities – a move applauded by Janet Judge, an attorney and former member of the Knight Commission. Other strategies include outreach to presidents and chancellors to encourage recruitment of highly qualified minority candidates.

“If we’re going to impact cultural change, we’ve got to get those that are responsible for those decisions involved in the conversation,” Franklin said.

To prepare these groups, he also stressed the need for increased professional development and leadership opportunities.

“It’s not enough to just hire someone if it’s a setup for failure,” said St. Joseph College (Conn.) President Pam Reid, a panelist in the session.

“These issues are about education and accountability,” said panelist Patti Phillips, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.

Other initiatives Franklin announced include increasing educational opportunities for universities dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student-athlete issues. Franklin also said the NCAA will bring together best practices from other universities that can be accessed online.

“I think we are on the right track in terms of identifying the areas to focus on,” Peach Belt Commissioner and panelist David Brunk said.

Franklin said other target populations include disabled and international student-athletes.

“Until we say that someone is held accountable for diversity and inclusion, it won’t happen,” said Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches and Administrators organization.

Franklin said the NCAA anticipates offering additional opportunities for both online and in-person education sessions. Registration is now open for the annual Gender Equity and Issues Forum, which is now called the NCAA Equity and Inclusion Forum. It will include the traditional Title IX and women in sports topics, as well as presentations and best practices around issues of race and ethnicity, LGBT and disabled athletes.