– The formation of the Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission was announced by the League office on Monday. The Commission will examine areas in which systemic racism is perpetuated and seek actionable solutions for long-term sustainable change within the Patriot League.
The Commission is grounded in the Patriot League’s mission of preparing student-athletes to become leaders and make meaningful contributions to society in addition to its commitment in ensuring fairness, equitable opportunities, benefits and resources through the athletics departments of its member institutions.
The participation of both current and former student-athletes alongside coaches and administrators in the Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission will allow for a partnership across generations to assist in bridging the gap between their experiences, and enhance the understanding of the student experiences on League campuses and communities.
“The voices and experiences of our current and former student-athletes, coaches and administrators, as brought together by the League, are powerful,” Patriot League Commissioner Jennifer Heppel said. “The work of the Commission will intersect with existing and planned institutional initiatives and resources in order to maximize the value of the collective whole toward ensuring policies, operations and structure are absent of systemic racism.”
The Commission’s formation stemmed from conversations with a group of Black and Brown head and assistant coaches from multiple sports across the League. They began construction on a strategic and multi-faceted framework to advance intentional dialogue around specific areas, including recruitment, education, creation of support infrastructures and generational impact.
“The formation of the Patriot League’s Anti-Racism commission is a statement to our Black and Brown student-athletes and staff that their lives, experiences and voices matter,” Boston University women’s basketball head coach Marisa Moseley said. “As competitors and members of this League we have come to know that sport often allows our collective experience to transcend race. Though sport unites, I know we have so much further to go to address the systemic oppressions that are sewn into the fabric of our nation. This Commission is a necessary first step in reimagining a system which has created barriers towards advancement for far too long. In assembling 23 of my Black and Brown colleagues across our conference to partner in this initiative, I have been inspired by our unified commitment for change and reform. I am confident this commission will be a cornerstone of our league for years to come and look forward to engaging with the Patriot League community.”
“I also wish to express my gratitude to the Patriot League and Commissioner Heppel for providing us with a space to engage in conversation and dialogue, and taking action through launching this necessary initiative,” Moseley said.
Acknowledging the importance of formally recognizing the Commission within the League’s governance framework to ensure a continuing impact on League policy outcomes, support for the Commission was secured from on-campus administrators and the Patriot League Council of Presidents.
“The creation of the Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission represents an acknowledgment of the role of systemic racism in athletics and a commitment to combating it within the Patriot League,” said Lafayette College President Alison Byerly, the Chair of the Patriot League Council of Presidents. “As an athletic conference dedicated to the ideal of a student-athlete experience centered on education and leadership, the Patriot League has an important role to play in the critical work of addressing racial injustice. The Commission will work to ensure that Patriot League policies, operations, and procedures at every level promote an equitable, inclusive, and welcoming environment for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and communities.”
Dr. Billy Walker – American University Director of Athletics and Recreation/ Chair of the Patriot League Committee on Athletic Administration
“The Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission is a critical initiative in creating meaningful long-term change. The Commission is an important structural addition to the League’s governance framework. As such, it will facilitate the development of fair and equitable League policies and operations, and ensure those policies and operations are absent systemic racism.”
Marsha Harper – American University Women’s Soccer Head Coach
“The formation of the Patriot League’s Anti-Racism Commission is a crucial step in truly cultivating America’s next leaders. Sport is a medium that teaches its participants several things. I am hopeful that this will go a long way in stimulating sustained education, discussion, and more importantly – ACTION towards equity amongst all races through efforts to eliminate systemic racism. I am thrilled to be a part of this essential Commission.”
Joe Jones – Boston University Men’s Basketball Head Coach
"There are a lot of layers of systematic racism. This coalition that we've put together and its mission will attempt to break down those layers. This is not something that you can put a Band-Aid on to fix. It will require a lot of hard discussions from everyone to look at our practices and see how we can do a better job at our institutions.”
Maisha Kelly – Bucknell University Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Development, Senior Woman Administrator
“Because the Patriot League truly embodies the holistic development of its student-athletes, who are poised to become leaders in their respective communities and professions, as a league we are uniquely positioned to commission a group of leaders and stakeholders to pursue actions and substantive change in the areas of social justice. Broadening our campus and League-wide education and discourse in anti-racism, social justice, and diversity and inclusion will permeate beyond our footprint. Together, we can achieve long-lasting change throughout the spaces in which our students and staff intersect presently and in the future. I commend the efforts and discussions of the Patriot League's Black and Brown basketball coaches to push this work forward as a top priority as we live through a time when our Black and Brown student-athletes, coaches and staff members continue to realize the realities of systemic and structural racism.”
Nathan Davis – Bucknell University Men’s Basketball Head Coach
“I believe that the formation of the Patriot League's Anti-Racism Commission is a vital and positive step in the continued efforts of our league institutions to educate and prepare our student-athletes to influence the nation and the world in positions of leadership. I would like to thank all of the Patriot League Presidents and Athletic Directors for their support of the Commission. It is my sincere hope and expectation that this Commission will be able to work with our student-athletes in order to help our league institutions create and advance policies that will lead to a better and more inclusive educational experience for all.”
Marcus Blossom – College of the Holy Cross Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
“The Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission is an important initiative in our League’s efforts to develop solutions to fight racism and discrimination and advance policies that will lead to an equitable, inclusive and welcoming educational experience for all. I am thankful for the thoughtful conversations of our minority head and assistant coaches that spearheaded this initiative and for Jennifer Heppel and the Council of Presidents’ leadership in formally recognizing the Commission within the League’s governance framework.”
Sherryta Freeman – Lafayette College Director of Athletics
“It is important that we come together as a League to develop actionable solutions to end systemic racism. With the formation of the Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission and the universal support of its mission, I believe we will achieve the desired results of long-term sustainable change. We may be competitors in sports, but when it comes to fighting for equal human rights and social justice issues, we are on the same team! I look forward to getting to work with my colleagues.”
Kia Damon-Olson – Lafayette College Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“I am proud of the rapid formation of the Patriot League Anti-Racism Commission. What started out as a conversation led by Marisa Moseley, has quickly evolved into a movement within the conference to examine and eradicate all practices that may contribute to systemic racism. Commissioner Heppel has championed the idea of long-term sustainable change and the Commission will ensure generations of Patriot League student-athletes, staff, coaches and administrators are able to learn, compete and work in an equitable environment.
Tavaras Hardy – Loyola University of Maryland Men’s Basketball Head Coach
“The creation of the Anti-Racism Commission within the Patriot League is critically important as we work to reconcile the systemic issues that keep our Black populations at a competitive disadvantage. Each institution has the unique opportunity to lead and bring on real change to positively affect our student-athletes, faculty, staff, alumni and community. I am grateful for our University leaders, Commissioner Jennifer Heppel, Coach Marisa Moseley as well as all of the coaches and administrators that helped drive this initiative into action.”
ABOUT THE PATRIOT LEAGUE
The Patriot League
is in its fourth decade of academic and athletic achievement, continually demonstrating that student-athletes can excel at both academics and athletics without sacrificing high standards. The Patriot League’s athletic success is achieved while its member institutions remain committed to its founding principle of admitting and graduating student-athletes that are academically representative of their class. Participation in athletics at Patriot League institutions is viewed as an important component of a well-rounded education.