In an effort to amplify players’ voices and increase opportunities for minorities, the Southeastern Conference has created the Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice. Five student-athletes and three staff members will represent the University of Kentucky.
Josh Paschal (Football), Keion Brooks Jr. (Men’s Basketball), and Blair Green (Women’s Basketball) will serve on councils in their respective sports, while Lauren Denham (Women’s Swimming & Diving) and Kendyl Paris (Volleyball) will be on the SEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Gymnastics Head Coach Tim Garrison and Men’s and Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach Lonnie Greene will serve alongside other league Head Coaches, while Melissa Gleason, UK Executive Associate Director of Athletics & Chief Financial Officer, will serve at UK’s representatives among the University Administrators.
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.
“This is really important and I’m excited to be a part of the Student-Athlete Engagement Program,” Paschal said. “This program gives the student-athletes a voice so that Commissioner Sankey and our schools’ athletic directors know how we are thinking on topics and issues in our sports. We need to continue building these relationships so we can make decisions that help serve the student-athletes in the best way possible.”
“I’m proud to be part of the SEC’s effort in the pursuit of creating a better future,” Greene said. “In this moment where we’ve seen a powerful movement emerge across the country, we hope the conversations we have, and recommendations we make, will help move us toward everlasting change relating to equal treatment of all traditionally underrepresented groups across society including in our field of intercollegiate athletics.
“As (SEC) Commissioner Greg Sankey said, the Council will serve as a guide to the Conference’s development of an action agenda built on the foundation principle ‘that all are created equal.’ Our work will help ensure this truth echoes loud and clear throughout our stadiums, our arenas, our campuses, our communities, our states and our nation.'”
The Council will provide guidance to the league office on a regular basis, initially focusing on 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
Brooks is also one of eleven members of the newly-formed NABC Player Development Coalition, a diverse collection of Division I men’s basketball student-athletes that will provide valuable perspective and feedback on college basketball issues. Yesterday, he took part in the NCAA’s Voices for Change social series, opening up on the impact George Floyd’s death had on himself and his teammates.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) August 24, 2020
You can see the entire Voices for Change conversation here. Keep making us proud, Cats.