USA Today reports that the NCAA has eliminated the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the VP position directing that office held by Charlotte Westerhaus. This is one of 17 positions eliminated in the restructuring.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was created by the former ED of the NCAA, Miles Brand, who died of pancreatic cancer last year. This unit in the NCAA was responsible for providing education programs to NCAA member schools on race, gender and sexual orientation issues in athletics. Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin will become the NCAA’s chief inclusion officer in the restructuring.
I was immediately concerned that these changes might signal that the NCAA was backing away from the commitment to diversity and inclusion described on their web page. However, after talking to some colleagues within the NCAA, I am hopeful that these and other structural changes might be a good thing. I am hopeful that the changes will enable the NCAA to broaden their focus on race and gender equity to include more programming on LGBT issues, disability issues and other aspects of diversity and inclusion.
I guess as we learn more about the changes going on at the NCAA we’ll know more. In the meantime, I am choosing to be optimistic about the restructuring as it affects the NCAA’s diversity and inclusion commitment.