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On Tuesday, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) released its latest episode of “the LEAD1 Angle” with Tom McMillen. This episode features LEAD1 CEO, McMillen, interviewing Sean Frazier, the Director of Athletics at Northern Illinois, and China Jude, the Senior Associate AD and SWA at the University of Wyoming. Frazier and Jude co-chair LEAD1’s working group that is currently examining issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in college sports. The working group features close to 30 athletic department administrators from across the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and aims to provide actionable recommendations for college sports by the end of this year. Thus, the interview centers around some of the relevant issues, and genesis behind creating the working group.
According to Frazier and Jude, while each institution has its own set of unique challenges, the working group is focused on recommendations that can be applied in a meaningful and practical manner. While there are some more common issues often focused on such as hiring practices, this group’s work goes well beyond that norm such as by considering culture and climate as well as challenges and vulnerabilities with respect to athletic departments. “We want to create a safe and successful space for athletics departments to make sure that these issues can be addressed effectively,” said Jude.
As highlighted in the interview, LEAD1’s working group is also considering the role of search firms and possible methods for incentivizing the hiring of ethnic minorities in college athletics. While a possible recommendation, like the National Football League’s (NFL) “Rooney Rule,” might seem like a simple recommendation for college sports, Frazier and Jude recognize that there are many challenges that colleges and universities face that make the application of such a policy more difficult. Every state and campus, for example, has its own policies with respect to hiring practices. Therefore, “we want to do something that can be tailored to the institution that will create a pool of opportunities and help transcend certain state rules and regulations,” said Frazier.
With 2020 being a watershed moment in both the U.S. and college sports because of the election, movement for social justice, and major changes to NCAA rules, LEAD1’s soon-to-be-released recommendations come at an extremely relevant and important time.
Please listen to the interview to learn more and stay tuned to LEAD1 in the coming weeks for an update on this important initiative.