NCAA Committee Honors Three College Athletics Professionals as 2024 Champions of Diversity and Inclusion

The NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee has named three individuals as 2024 Champions of Diversity and Inclusion for the summer season. The three are recognized for their campus and community work in supporting ethnic minorities and other underrepresented populations in intercollegiate athletics. 

The honorees are:

  • Ty-Ron Douglas, associate athletics director, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice, California.
  • Sara Lee, senior associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator, Denison.
  • John Lesaine, associate dean/associate athletics director for student-athlete success, Newberry.

The recognition was created in 2015 by the MOIC, the NCAA's Association-wide committee that champions causes and topics that involve diversity and inclusion in the membership. The honor is given twice a year to individuals at NCAA colleges, universities and athletics conferences who have shown a commitment to influencing and promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; advocating for and supporting underrepresented populations; and diversifying pipeline opportunities within college athletics. Individuals are nominated for the honor, with the MOIC reviewing and selecting the final three recipients.

"Congratulations to Dr. Ty-Ron Douglas, Sara Lee and Dr. John Lesaine for this well-earned recognition of their contribution to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in college athletics," said Adam Hutchinson, chair of the NCAA MOIC and director of athletics at Earlham. "Their impact on sport and the student-athlete experience extends beyond the borders of their campuses and is felt across all levels of the NCAA." 

Ty-Ron Douglas, California 

Douglas is a national leader in the DEI landscape and has provided leadership in California athletics since January 2021. Focusing on three DEIBJ pillars of educate, celebrate and accelerate, he has implemented listening and learning sessions, robust heritage month celebrations, weekly blogs on belonging, and panel sessions to amplify voices within the California community. Douglas consistently creates spaces for employees and student-athletes to express their identities and form communities with individuals from similar backgrounds. As such, he is credited with developing the California athletics employee engagement group infrastructure for Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and female-identifying communities. Douglas also arranged and led 34 California student-athletes, staff and coaches on an educational journey to the Black Student-Athlete Summit in 2023, which was one of the largest groups in attendance. 

He further influenced the culture of the department by inviting student-athletes and staff to listen and engage with activist Harry Edwards for Edwards' "Last Lecture" series, and he was instrumental with the department's diverse vendor initiative and its "Lifting the People Who Lift the People" video series. Douglas has earned numerous awards, including being recognized by the Pac-12 Network as a trailblazing DEI leader. He was the 2023 Professional of the Year at the Black Student-Athlete Summit and a recipient of a 2024 Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award for his leadership of the Champions of Justice Black History Month that honored John Carlos, Harry Edwards and Tommie Smith.

Sara Lee, Denison 

Lee has been a leader in championing diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism at Denison and throughout her career. She created Denison's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which works collaboratively with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to make sure that the needs and voices of all student-athletes are met and heard. Many believe one of Lee's strengths is her willingness to embrace and seek various perspectives. She ensures that individuals of different races, cultures, sexual preferences, economic backgrounds, disabilities, national origins and religious preferences are included. Additionally, she has strived to break down barriers that prevent full participation from individuals who may be introverted, individuals where English is a second language, individuals who have different styles of communication, or individuals who are geographically separated from Denison. Lee believes that involvement and belonging can lead to a commitment of collective well-being and mutual success. 

She also participated in the first Division III Inclusive Leaders Facilitator Program this year. Lee currently sits on the university's inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism team called Denison Forward, and she leads the IDEA team in the Division of Athletics, Recreation, Health, Exercise and Sport Studies. The university is developing a comprehensive strategic planning process, and Denison Forward will become a part of the overarching plan, with IDEA focus areas and principles infusing the planning. 

John Lesaine, Newberry 

Lesaine provides vision and direction for many of Newberry's diverse and inclusive initiatives. He created the Newberry College Black Male Success initiative, which provides individualized support and encouragement for African American males on the Newberry campus to aid in the success and retention of promising African American male scholars. Additional diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives include serving on the Newberry president's first Diversity Task Force, the DEIB Advisory Committee and the Newberry College Dufford Diversity and Inclusion Week Committee. Lesaine is also the college's first athletics diversity and inclusion designee, a full-time faculty member, an advisor in the university's Center for Student Success, and a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory. 

Lesaine has also been the main site coordinator for eight years for the program Call Me MISTER, which stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. The objective of the initiative is to increase the pool of available teachers from broader, more diverse backgrounds, particularly among the lowest performing elementary schools in South Carolina. Other accolades include being recognized as a Professor of the Year at Newberry on four occasions; earning the Boyd Professorship for Excellence in Teaching; and earning an Excellence in Teaching Award from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

Page 1 of 78
Next Page
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2024 in New Orleans
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov. 19-22, 2024
Learn More
AB Show 2024