B1G Commissioner Kevin Warren Forms Anti-Racism Coalition

Ignatius L Hoops

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Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, the only African American Power 5 conference commissioner and the former COO of the Minnesota Vikings, has created the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Floyd, a black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death has sparked outrage and protests across the country.

In an open letter released by the Big Ten conference on Monday, Warren invited student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and others to join him.

"I have already received powerful notes of support and interest in joining this coalition and look forward to partnering with the existing diversity councils on our various campuses," wrote Warren, who lived full time with his family in the Minneapolis area for over 15 years when he was with the Vikings. "It is critical that our student-athletes possess their rights to free speech, their rights to peaceful protest and we will work to empower them in creating meaningful change."

"We must listen to our young people," he wrote. "Our children and future generations deserve better. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. The Big Ten Conference will be part of the solution as we actively and constructively combat racism and hate in our country."

Warren and his wife, Greta, also announced a personal, initial gift of $100,000 from the Warren Family Foundation to the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, based in Washington, D.C., which focuses on addressing issues regarding racism, hate and voter registration.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Gadiva Hubbard and Lea B. Olsen named representatives in the coalition:


Rosemount, Ill. -
The Big Ten Conference formally announced today the members of the Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, which includes student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and other members of the Big Ten family representing all 14 member institutions. In addition, the Big Ten Conference formally launched a Voter Registration Initiative that has been in the planning stages since February of 2020.

Minnesota representatives on the coalition include university president Joan Gabel, athletic director Mark Coyle, student-athletes Seth Green (football) and Gadiva Hubbard (women's basketball) and head coaches P.J. Fleck (football) and Hugh McCutcheon (volleyball). Alumni Darrell Thompson (football) and Lea B. Olsen (women's basketball) as well as former Gopher diver and current Illinois women's diving head coach Manny Pollard are also on the committee. Senior associate athletic director Peyton Owens III will be Minnesota's representative on the Big Ten Conference Voter Registration Committee.

"The events in our country and around the world during the past few months have strengthened my fundamental belief in our need to develop tangible and actionable efforts in a collective manner and provide viable solutions addressing the issues of hate and racism in our society," said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. "We have the distinct opportunity and responsibility through our Coalition to continually encourage, educate and empower our student-athletes as we embrace transparent and much-needed dialogue regarding meaningful issues that have impacted race relations for many years."

"The Big Ten Conference Voter Registration Initiative is a natural extension of the conversation within the Coalition. An election year provides the opportunity to educate our student-athletes in a non-partisan fashion regarding the importance of exercising their civic right to clearly understand the political process, register to vote, cast a vote during the upcoming election, and provide adequate support to combat voter suppression. We are at an inflection point in our country. Empowering our student-athletes by encouraging them to use their voices illustrates how we can collectively work together to build a better future."

The Coalition was first announced in an open letter from Commissioner Warren on June 1, 2020 following the death of George Floyd. The goal of the Coalition is to seek tangible ways to actively and constructively combat racism and hate around the world while also empowering student-athletes to express their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.

The Coalition will leverage, support and complement the extraordinary efforts already taking place across the Big Ten Conference through initiatives on our campuses, as well as through existing conference-wide organizations like the Big Ten Advisory Commission. Established in 1972 in the midst of a period of significant social unrest in our nation, the Advisory Commission will have direct representation on the Coalition.

The Big Ten Conference Voter Registration Initiative is a Conference-wide collaboration that encourages student-athletes to take part in the electoral process. The non-partisan Initiative is coordinated by a Voter Registration Committee that includes representatives from all 14 Big Ten institutions. This initiative was activated in February 2020, and hosts three subcommittees to address: Timeline, Outreach and Rollout; Technology and Data; and Education and Programming.

Monthly educational programming will begin in July and continue through the general election on November 3, 2020. This programming will be designed to inform and educate student-athletes on the importance of civic engagement and how to register to vote and submit a ballot, in person or absentee.

The Voter Registration Committee will also partner with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to develop educational programming, create outreach tools, foster open and honest dialogue with law enforcement and collaborate with other established civic platforms. In partnership with Election Protection, the nation's largest and longest-running non-partisan, voter protection program, led by the Lawyers' Committee, the Big Ten Conference will work to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to register, vote and have that vote counted. The Big Ten Conference will encourage use of the Election Protection helpline, 866-OUR-VOTE or 866-687-8683, which is available 365 days a year to support anyone with voting-related questions.
 
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