By Alexis Lee, News Writer
Missouri University of Science and Technology recently signed the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Presidential Pledge to promote diversity and gender equality. The university officially committed to establishing racial and ethnic diversity and gender equity to reflect the student population, along with the nation. Missouri S&T’s chancellor, Cheryl B. Schrader, expressed her enthusiasm in committing to this goal: “Our athletes, coaches and staff make tremendous contributions to the university, and we strive to support them in every way possible. I am gratified to sign onto this significant initiative, which reflects Missouri S&T’s commitment to attracting and retaining a diverse community of students, faculty and staff.” This inclusion will not stop at the sports team rosters, for this pledge will initiate an effort for individuals from diverse backgrounds to represent the athletic program as athletic directors, coaches, and commissioners.
The pledge directly states: “Consistent with our mission and values, our institution, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, pledges to specifically commit to establishing initiatives for achieving ethnic and racial diversity, gender equity and inclusion, with a focus and emphasis on hiring practices in intercollegiate athletics, to reflect the diversity of our membership and our nation. We recognize and value the experiences individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to intercollegiate athletics. To that end, we will strive to identify, recruit and interview individuals from diverse backgrounds in an effort to increase their representation and retention as commissioners, athletics directors, coaches and other leaders in athletics. As part of this commitment, we will also engage in a regular diversity, inclusion and equity review to inform campus policy and diversity initiatives. We understand this to be a collective responsibility we owe to student-athletes, staff, our athletics programs and the entire campus community.”
A survey initiated two years ago proved some shocking statistics in the athletic association. In the 2014-15 academic year, less than ten percent of athletic directors were African-American, less than thirteen percent of athletic administration leadership positions were held by ethnic minorities, and less than half of women sports teams were coached by women themselves. These statistics are among a few current standards Missouri S&T’s athletic administration aims to help change. Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer, claimed: “When schools take this pledge – and follow through with their actions – it can be a powerful instrument that supports university and Association values when addressing student-athletes, recruits, parents and prospective staff on their campuses.” The university intends on joining students, staff, and administrative leaders to reach for the common goal of inclusion and equality.
The NCAA Presidential Pledge was originally developed to improve representation of racial and gender minorities at all levels of the coaching and athletic administration. The NCAA has been encouraging presidents and chancellors to sign the pledge to unify all athletic associations in this movement of equality. So far, the movement has created great support, including top governing bodies in each division and the NCAA Board of Governors. To commence this course of action, participating institutions will be receiving a best practices toolkit and other resources to aid in the hiring and inclusion processes in the coming months.