Men’s and women’s basketball players in the Big East will wear Black Lives Matter patches on their uniforms during the 2020-21 college basketball season.
The conference announced the news Wednesday as part of its continuing anti-racism efforts.
“We are proud that all eleven of our schools support the effort to bring attention through Big East basketball to the Black Lives Matter movement and its goal of a more racially just world,” Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said.
The “BLM” patches were unanimously approved by the Big East’s 11 schools, the conference said, and the idea of Coaches For Action (CFA), a newly-formed group started by 21 minority assistant basketball coaches in the conference. The Big East said it is backing CFA’s efforts “to help raise awareness in the fight against racism.”
“This gesture allows us to acknowledge our Black students, student-athletes, coaches and other stakeholders and bring attention to the many contributions of Black, Brown and minoritized people in our athletics programs and the missions of our member schools,” Ackerman said.
“We applaud the initiative and leadership of CFA and their efforts to shine a light on the challenges that our Black student-athletes, coaches and administrators face on a daily basis,” Ackerman said. “We hope our BLM initiative, coupled with the Big East’s prominence and visibility, can help our country bridge its protracted racial divide and allow us, once and for all, to live up to our national ideals of equality for all.”
Ackerman said the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery led to “emotional conversations” within the Big East — including with the conference’s athletes — and caused the conference to try to come together for the greater good.
“For all of us in the extended Big East family, ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a political organization or ideology, but a fact,” Ackerman said. “For us, BLM means that the safety, dignity and well-being of all Black people are non-negotiable rights and that intolerance and repression because of skin color cannot be tolerated in our world.”
Direction for 2020-21 season coming by mid-September
It is not immediately clear when Big East teams will be able to debut these patches. NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said Monday that there are contingency plans being worked on if it is deemed unsafe to proceed with the season’s scheduled Nov. 10 start date amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gavitt said a direction “about whether the season and practice start on time” will be provided by the NCAA by mid-September.
“We recognize that we are living and operating in an uncertain time, and it is likely that mid-September will be just the first milestone for many important decisions pertaining to the regular season and the NCAA basketball championships,” Gavitt said. “While circumstances may warrant flexibility resulting in a different and perhaps imperfect season, the ultimate goal is to safely provide student-athletes and teams with a great college basketball experience.”
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