The Southeastern Conference last week announced creation of the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice, a league-wide body consisting of a diverse group of student-athletes, administrators, coaches and SEC staff.
According to a release posted to the SEC’s website, the council will identify resources, outline strategies and assist with implementation of efforts that, when taken together, will promote racial equity and social justice, while also fostering diversity, helping overcome racism and pursuing non-discrimination in intercollegiate athletics.
"An important movement has been ignited around the equitable treatment of all underrepresented minorities, and the SEC is determined to be a leader in the pursuit of meaningful and lasting change," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in the release. "With the Council as our guide, we will develop an action agenda built on the foundation that all are created equal and ensure this truth echoes across our stadiums, our arenas, our campuses, our communities, our states and our nation."
Members of the council include individuals from within the Conference's existing student-athlete engagement program - a multi-faceted effort involving more than 60 student leaders in football, men's basketball, women's basketball and all other SEC sponsored sports. Racial equity and social justice will be required discussions during all student-athlete leadership and advisory council meetings, while those groups' chairs, vice chairs and/or other identified leaders will participate in council meetings.
In addition, the council will include administrative leaders from each campus and head coaches from each SEC sport (see full list below), who will regularly meet with SEC student-athletes to better understand and respond to their questions and concerns.
"Today's youth are our leaders and change agents of tomorrow, and by listening, asking and seeking their insights and counsel, we have begun the shared journey toward racial equality," said Sankey.
Alongside student-athletes, the SEC has used the past several weeks to gather and understand perspectives from a range of stakeholders across its 14 campuses, including presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, senior woman administrators, faculty athletics representatives, various sport head coaches, mental health professionals and the SEC staff.
Those discussions helped create a framework for the council, which will provide ongoing guidance to the SEC office and updates to conference leaders at regular intervals. The council will initially focus on the following five strategic areas:
- Increasing Access and Representation for Underrepresented Minorities
- Providing Enhanced Support for Underrepresented Minorities
- Improving Education on Racial and Social Issues for All Stakeholders
- Deepening Commitments to Local Communities
- Raising Awareness of Racial Inequity and Social Injustice
Among other efforts, the council will be tasked with identifying resources related to racial equity and social justice for educational and professional development programs for athletics department staff, coaches and student-athletes; outlining support mechanisms for underrepresented minorities within the athletics department; and identifying opportunities for the SEC to bolster ongoing university and athletics department diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. In addition, the council will advise athletics departments and the conference office on ways student-athletes, coaches and staff may fulfill their ongoing civic responsibilities in the electoral process.
Coupled with student-athlete participation, members of the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice include the following university administrators and head coaches.