Pac-12 Conference announces initial steps to combat racism, promote social justice

Pac-12 Conference announces initial steps to combat racism, promote social justice
TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 07: Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott speaks at a press conference before the Pac 12 Championship game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Stanford Cardinal at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Pac-12 on Wednesday announced a series of initial steps designed to promote social justice and combat racism.

Along with creating a new head of diversity and inclusion position, the conference also announced the the formation of a social justice and anti-racism advisory group composed of a cross section of university athletics and academic leaders and student-athletes from all 12 universities The Pac-12 has also launched a series of student-athlete and coach anti-racism virtual forums.

“Social justice has always been an important value and principle for the Pac-12, our member universities and our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Now is the time to strengthen our efforts, to listen, to learn and to do more. Today’s announcements represent an important series of first steps as we seek to do the right thing to make our communities and society more humane, just and free of racism.”

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In a release, the Pac-12 said the new head of diversity and inclusion senior leadership role would be “responsible for ensuring that best practices in minority hiring and advancement are implemented” and “ensure coordination with and support for campus heads of diversity and inclusion.”

The position, which the conference said will be filled quickly, will work closely with Teresa Gould, the Pac-12′s Senior Associate Commissioner of Sports Management & Institutional Services. Gould has recently been managing the conference’s anti-racism and social justice initiatives.

On Friday, Washington announced that head men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins and head football coach Jimmy Lake had pledged $100,000 each to the athletic department to assist in funding a newly-created senior level diversity and inclusion staff position to be filled before the end of the summer.

The new social justice and anti-racism advisory group will focus on “developing and driving the Conference’s anti-racism and social justice initiatives in concert with member universities.” It will lead the Pac'12 plan on social justice and anti-racism in order to provide alignment between internal and external efforts, which will include community engagement, educational programming, amplifying collective voice, organizational change in the workplace and action initiatives.

Co-chaired by Washington State athletic director Pat Chun and USC faculty athletics representative Alan Green, the advisory group will include four members each among the the student-athlete leadership team, athletic directors, senior women administrators and faculty athletic representatives, as well as the new Pac-12 Conference head of diversity and inclusion, once hired. All 12 universities will be represented.

The forums are designed to provide student-athletes “with space to discuss anti-racism and social justice issues with individuals with expertise in addressing and combating racism and using their voice to promote social justice, to normalize these conversations, and to set a template for further conversations on campus with their teams and athletic departments.”

The first student-athlete forum was held on June 29. It was moderated by current Stanford professor and former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and featured Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, former Stanford and current WNBA standout Chiney Ogwumike and former UCLA and current NFL star Eric Kendricks as panelists, along with over 250 current student-athletes.

The first coaches’ forum will take place on July 21 in collaboration with the Institute of Sport and Social Justice. It will focus on on best practices in addressing racism and promoting social justice for coaches within their programs.