Winthrop University: Big South Conference Announces Anti-Racism Initiatives
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Big South Conference Announces Anti-Racism Initiatives

July 20, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Big South Conference has developed an official position campaign on anti-racism measures, has created a task force to address racial matters, and will implement on-going programs to support and engage these important issues.
  • Kelley Kish, Winthrop's senior associate director of athletics for business and finance and the department’s senior woman administrator, will serve on the nine-person task force which was created to review conference efforts and institutional diversity expectations.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – A Winthrop University athletics administrator is part of a Big South Conference task force created to design initiatives to combat racial inequality and social injustice. 

The league has developed an official position campaign on anti-racism measures, has created a task force to address racial matters, and will implement on-going programs to support and engage these important issues. In addition, the conference announced it will make Election Day on Nov. 3 a required day off.

Kelley Kish, Winthrop's senior associate director of athletics for business and finance and the department’s senior woman administrator, will serve on the nine-person task force which was created to review conference efforts and institutional diversity expectations.

Kish said she was honored to represent Winthrop within this Big South Task Force. "The opportunity to continue to be a model conference takes us understanding and uprooting racism and inequality," she said. "Ultimately the work of this group will have a positive impact on our student-athletes, staff and the campuses of our membership – which will help us work toward an antiracist and more just society.”

The group will be responsible for advising the conference on the establishment of goals to achieve positive outcomes.  Other members of the task force are: USC Upstate Chief Diversity Officer Al Atkins, Campbell Athletics Director Omar Banks, UNC Asheville Women’s Soccer Coach Clifton Bush, Longwood Faculty Athletics Representative Tim Coffey, Hampton Senior Woman Administrator Paula Jackson, Radford Athletics Director Robert Lineburg, Big South Student-Athlete Advisory Council Chair and Hampton Men’s Tennis Player Davy Van Geerke and Campbell Women’s Basketball Player Lauren McNamara-Clement.

The Big South’s position on anti-racism is derived from its own name, “S.O.U.T.H.” -- with the letters standing for Support, Opportunities, Unity, Transparency and Honest conversation. 

These five areas will serve as the primary driver of the initiatives, and are defined below:

Support - The Big South will create supportive spaces for black student-athletes and encourage allyship to promote a culture of inclusion.

Opportunities – The Big South is committed to promoting and providing opportunities for people of color.

Unity - The Big South will be united in its fight against racism, inequality and social injustice.

Transparency - The Big South will be transparent and intentional in setting goals and aligning its resources and assets to achieve equitable outcomes.

Honest conversation - The Big South will facilitate healthy dialogue and provide educational opportunities for the student-athletes, coaches and administration of member institutions.

“The Big South Conference takes the issues of anti-racism and enhanced diversity seriously,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander. “It should be noted that the Conference has already been active in addressing diversity issues through policies and our Connection event.  However, recent events have caused us all to look at how we can do more.  I am very encouraged by the engaged dialogue we have had in the past month with our student-athletes and task force to honestly and transparently address these critical issues.”

Planned programming to-date as part of the league’s mission to make significant change includes:

·         A special Diversity/Inclusion Session on July 23 as part of the Big South’s Student-Athlete Summer Leadership Series, with a keynote address from social justice educator Jen Fry. 

·         Student-Athlete Town Halls throughout the year

·         Programming for the Big South’s head coaches, Board of Administrators and Conference Office staff. 

·         The third Big South Connection event, which invites minority and female coaching and administrative candidates to participate in professional development workshops and network with current league administrators.

·         A monthly topical video series to bring awareness and discussion to the current environment that continues to drive the conversations in a meaningful, educational and productive manner.

·         Election Day, Nov. 3, will be a required off-day from all athletically-related activities to encourage student-athletes and staff to exercise their right to vote.  The only exceptions will be for teams with previously existing agreements and conference championships activities, which will be minimal.  Institutions involved in these events commit to encouraging their student-athletes to participate via absentee ballot or early voting.

For more information, contact Mark Simpson of the Big South at marks@bigsouth.org.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21