The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics recently released a new report entitled Achieving Racial Equity in College Sports. The report calls on universities, athletics conferences, the College Football Playoff, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association to take decisive action to address systemic policies and practices that create barriers to the success of Black college athletes.
Among the recommendation offered by the commission are:
- Permanently eliminating standardized test scores as an athletics eligibility criterion and instead employing a more holistic review of student readiness.
- Boosting financial support from the NCAA for historically Black colleges and universities in the Accelerating Academic Success Program.
- Adoption of the Russell Rule requiring each institution to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for athletics leadership positions, including athletic director and head coach.
- Schools and conferences should be establishing a network of Black alumni and faculty to serve as mentors.
- College and universities should provide a dedicated stream of funding for summer bridge programs for incoming Black college athletes.
- Educational institutions should establish mentorship programs outside of the athletics department that enrich the development of Black athletes and expanding the ranks of college representatives who serve as advocates for the experiences of Black athletes.
- Colleges and universities should create a safe process for Black athletes to report any discrimination or treatment concerns, without fear of reprisal.
Len Elmore, who chaired the task force that produced the report, stated that “The Commission’s report comes in the midst of a historic reckoning on race and a rise in Black student activism on college campuses. This moment demands transformational actions that specifically improve the college experience for Black athletes, coaches, and athletics personnel throughout all competitive divisions of college sports. The Knight Commission’s report lays out a road map for how the CFP, and the NCAA and its member institutions can turn pledges into policies that do just that.”