Penn Athletics Racial Justice Task Force Recommendations

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Rayshard Brooks. Daniel Prude. Mia Green. Jonathan Price. Jacob Blake. Marcellis Stinnette. Walter Wallace, Jr. These are some of the victims of tragic incidents within the past few months, and these names join a growing list of members of the Black community who have been victims of violence. Yet these incidents are not new – they are the tip of the iceberg of a larger issue. As actor Will Smith effectively points out, "Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed." Racial injustice has plagued our society for far too long. Our communities of color have been negatively impacted for decades by systemic racism and it is present every single day.

The Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics is not immune from this problem, and we are committed to taking an active stand against systemic racism. In June, Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W'69 Director of Athletics and Recreation, announced a Plan of Action: First Steps to Combat Racism and commissioned the DRIA Racial Justice Task Force. This group was to build upon the Plan of Action and provide recommendations that support our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) student-athletes, coaches, staff and community, with the goal of DRIA developing into an organization that is truly anti-racist.

The Racial Justice Task Force was asked to focus on both short- and long-term recommendations for DRIA. Over the course of four months, the task force met to discuss and create recommendations, which were presented to Dr. Calhoun and the DRIA Executive Team and unanimously approved.

Building Our Community

building our community

Objective: In order to build a supportive and inclusive community we must understand who we are and how to grow together. This subcommittee reviewed DRIA’s approach to recruiting and hiring racially diverse student-athletes, coaches and staff, collected demographic data on athletic alumni and sports board composition, and explored methods to maintain diversity and inclusion efforts now and in the future.

Short Term

- Select an Athletic Diversity & Inclusion Designee: While we recommend that this position be solely dedicated to job responsibilities focusing on diversity and inclusion, we know that financial restrictions may limit the feasibility of making a hire at this time. In the interim, it is recommended that an existing staff member is appointed as the ADID while a group of diverse staff members provide support to this individual to help immediately implement the recommendations of this concluded DRIA Racial Justice Task Force.

The ADID role should be a two-year rotating term position. At the conclusion of the term, a new staff member will serve in this role to ensure that new energy and momentum can be sustained.

- Identify the make-up of the support group to the ADID: Designate the scope and responsibilities of the staff-driven support. Quaker Forward Committee: University Partner (1), Student-Athlete Representative (2), including SAAC Diversity & Inclusion Chair, DRIA At-Large Representatives (2 - 1 coach & 1 non-coach), Ivy League Diversity & Inclusion Committee Representative (1), Provost Administrative Affairs/HR (1), DRIA Executive Team Member (1), Center for Student-Athlete Success Representative (1) and Committee Administrator/Coordinator (1). Determine appropriate term lengths for each position.

- Address diversity within the sport boards: Identify the make-up of the sport boards in conjunction with Penn Champions Club and review board member qualifications and requirements to increase the diversity of the boards.

- Increase diversity on Athletics Board of Advisors (formerly Athletics Board of Overseers)

- Review diversity of broader community: Inventory of staff diversity and Student-Athlete diversity as a baseline for growth. Current staff demographics: 12.7% non-white (8% black) and 36% female. Current student-athlete demographics: 26.2% non-white (11.9% black). Recommend that our club team coaches and fitness instructors are included in opportunities for education and training.

- Implement hiring practices that broaden the scope of applicants and continue to remove identifying information that may play to unconscious bias during early rounds of applicant review, where applicable. DRIA should commit to intentionality in hiring practices: Quaker Forward Committee should create hiring and recruiting benchmarks for DRIA.

- Create internship/learning programs within DRIA: Opportunities for West Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia area youth. Pathway program for undergraduate students. Explore McLendon Program/Scholarship opportunities.

- Work with Office of Undergraduate Admissions and coaches to expand recruiting pools, eliminate barriers and increase support for BIPOC prospective student-athletes.

- Expand facility access to provide increased usage for West Philadelphia schools and community.

Long Term

- Address the feasibility and encourage partnership between Athletics and recreation teams/clubs/fitness classes: Encourage broader participation in civic engagement programs across the Division.

- Provide opportunities for leadership growth under all subsets of the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics.

- Secure funding for and hire a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

- Quaker Forward Committee should set, review and grade hiring and recruiting benchmarks in future years.

Education & Training

Education & Training

Objective: Taking time to understand the experiences of others is integral to opening hearts and minds. The Education & Training subcommittee focused on resources for student-athletes, coaches and staff, and recommendations for ongoing training and education around race, diversity and inclusion.

Short Term

- Part I Training: Coaches and selected staff who completed Broadening Your Perspectives training in January 2020 will view one-hour video. Student-athletes will view one-hour Broadening Your Perspectives video. Coaches and selected staff who did not attend Broadening Your Perspectives training in January 2020 will complete training in Fall 2020.

- Part II Training: Student-athletes will view two short YouTube videos. Student-athletes will be divided into 30-person groups (combining two teams in each). Groups will review Broadening Your Perspectives video. This will be followed by facilitated discussion of short videos.

- Part II training same for coaches and staff.

- Create a library of racial justice and awareness resources – videos, articles, films & books.

- Head coaches and select student-athletes and staff participate in “A Long Talk” Program.

Long Term

- Annual in-service training for staff and coaches.

- Implicit/unconscious bias training for hiring managers on an ongoing basis.

- Required training for all new DRIA hires.

- DRIA commitment to ongoing conversation – not just after traumatic incidents.

- Align closely with Penn’s Social Equity & Community efforts.

Marketing & Communications

Marketing & Communications

Objective: Throughout the history of DRIA, there have been many highly successful BIPOC student-athletes. The goal of the Marketing & Communication Subcommittee is to identify and promote the historical impact of a racially diverse population of student-athletes and alumni at Penn.

Short Term

- Press releases – Racial Justice Task Force Mid-Term and Final Update.

- Social media: Highlight diversity with current student-athlete profiles entitled “Penn Profiles”. Spotlight prominent alumni and specific accomplishments at Penn with “Did you know?” and “On this day” posts. Promote diversity at the Penn Relays and Promote voting in upcoming election.

- Design Penn Athletics poster that highlights the diversity of our student-athletes and programs.

- Highlight & support our West Philadelphia community: Promote civic engagement successes of Young Quakers and other endeavors. Created targeted marketing for local organizations, schools, community members, etc

- Support for Black-owned businesses: Increase number of sponsorships with Black-owned businesses.

- Use resources to highlight the efforts related to programming and community building.

- Partner with Penn Champions Club to create and amplify an alumni profile highlighting a more diverse segment of the alumni population.

Long Term

- Prioritize impact: Campus – Ivy League – NCAA/National.

- Collaborate with campus partners in communication on campus, within the Ivy League, and other institutions/leagues nationally.

- Improve on-campus branding of athletic facilities when we return to campus.

- Create series’ promoting Penn’s diversity and uniqueness: I.E. “Only at Penn” series. 

- Ongoing commitment to voting education and efforts.

- Collaborate with the Ivy League office and peers on the Ivy Promise to create on brand and game presentation plans.

- Partner with University-wide marketing/communication offices to ensure that student-athlete voices are heard and to align DRIA initiatives with campus diversity and inclusion efforts.



Objective: To create avenues for Penn Athletics to best support our student-athletes of color in their academic pursuits and community involvement. Identify a physical and inclusive gathering space for student-athletes of color and allies.

Short Term

COVID-19 Programming

- Mentoring: Develop a set of questions to ask each student-athlete to have more input into what type of mentor they’d like to have. Specify preferences on: Occupation and Industry. Major at Penn. Gender Identity. Race/Ethnic Identity. Your sport or open to other sport alumni. Will require research and time to find alumni that fit the criteria. It is going to be important to identify who is making the matches for each team to provide them support. It can be a very time-consuming process which requires knowing the players on a personal level as well as a solid understanding of who the current and available mentors are.

- Tutors, Proctors, Group Exercise Instructors: Additional required training.

- Virtual Programing: Expand on the “Addressing Racial Awareness Series” – perhaps making it more frequent. Civic Engagement. 

Post-COVID-19 Programming

- Temporary shared space for black student-athletes: Rotate between Education Commons and Pottruck conference room: reserve a room for 3-4 hours for one night per week. Weekly programming (ex. Game nights, movie nights, discussions). Partner with campus groups, such as Makuu to host events and share space.

- Penn Champions Club: create a fund for donors to help fund programming: Black Student-Athlete Fund: assist us in running programming specific to black student-athletes; fund the eventual permanent shared space. Civic Engagement: Sponsor facility fees. Cover van rentals. Clearances cost (non-Netter programs). Equipment. Get on “Menu” of Gift Categories.

- Civic Engagement: “Week of civic engagement” post-graduation with focus on West Philadelphia. Park clean up. Clothing and school supply donation drives. Bring virtual programs in-person. Continue partnership with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to grow programming within the West Philadelphia community.

- Campus Recreation: Short open-forum, community corner.

Long Term

- Permanent shared space for black student-athletes: Market as a space for black student-athletes and club sport athletes, but open to allies and non-athletes. In conjunction with the office for the CDIO – have this person close in proximity, creating a higher sense of unity between administration and students. He/she would also ideally act as a support system for students to use as a resource or just someone to talk to. Location should be somewhere in the athletics area. Open late night and early morning with swipe access. Work study opportunity. Funded by the Black Student-Athlete Fund. Responsibilities may include maintaining the space, creating programming, acting as liaison to the CDO. Partner with Makuu to provide improved space

- Events: First-year meet and greet for BIPOC student-athletes (Mixer event for all BIPOC student-athletes). Create programming around national months/weeks/days. 

- Mentoring: Build the black alumni base for mentoring. Streamline the matching process: collect and compile more in-depth information on all current mentors and potential mentors. As we build up the BIPOC mentor population, have this information in a database we can search can help to identify potential mentors based on the student-athlete’s criteria. Partner with Umentor managers, Brad Fadem and Lauren Procopio

- Tutoring: Employ a more diverse group of tutors.

- Ally Training and Education: Voluntary program for DRIA staff and coaches, tutors, mentors, group exercise instructors, captains, SAAC representatives, etc. Curriculum of coursework to be able to call yourself a “certified ally” (or other term). Original set of required courses, with an additional X courses to maintain certification each semester. Serve as an example for the larger University to implement similar programs.

- Civic Engagement: Restore funding for the Civic Engagement Coordinator Position (40,000/annually + EB). Create semester day of service (September, April); required for all student-athletes and coaches; physical presence doing service in West Philadelphia at a variety of locations with different tasks. Increase presence and create the framework for mentoring HS and middle school students so that it is easy for student-athletes to sign up to participate. Increase involvement with West Philadelphia; focus future programming on impacting the surrounding Penn community. DRIA Internship program: Current undergrad/post grad. High school students in West Philadelphia: partner with schools to give students credit for working with DRIA. Student-athlete clearances (FBI fingerprinting, PA Child Abuse, PATCH): All student-athletes should be cleared as they enter Penn their freshman year; issue of questioning clearances will eventually fix itself as the process happens each year.

- Create BIPOC Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy subgroup, encompassing BIPOC student-athletes from all years: o Host multiple BIPOC speakers/events per semester to speak with BIPOC student-athletes.

These recommendations have been created as a beginning, not a conclusion. They represent a gateway to a better future and are intended to provide direction and intention to DRIA's efforts to become a more diverse, inclusive, anti-racist organization. It is our expectation that the Quaker Forward Committee will continue to build upon and develop these initiatives in the months and years ahead, but that it will begin working to implement the short-term goals with immediate effect.

In the end, we are judged by our actions, not our discussions or deliberations. The Task Force has appreciated the chance to play a role in the Division's efforts thus far and welcomes the opportunity to provide further feedback or assistance in the future.

Student-Athletes: Nia Caldwell C’22, Student-Athlete, Women’s Track & Field. Michae Jones, C’21, Student-Athlete, Women’s Basketball. Jelani Williams C’21, Student-Athlete, Men’s Basketball. Mitch Bartolo, C’21, Student-Athlete, Men’s Lacrosse. Raven Sulaimon, C’21, Student-Athlete, Volleyball. 

Alumni: Jerome Williams, C’69, Men’s Track & Field Alumnus. Denis Elton Cochran-Fikes, C’74, WG’79, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field Alumnus. Stan Greene, C’78, Men’s Basketball Alumnus.

Coaches: Roger Reina, C’84, Head Wrestling Coach. Meredith Schamun, Head Volleyball Coach. Ray Priore, George A. Munger Head Football Coach. Steven Downs, Assistant Football Coach. Nat Graham C'97, Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach.

Campus Partners: Rev. Charles Howard, C’00, VP for Social Equity & Community & University Chaplain. Rebecca Block, Associate Director HR, Provost Center. Malik Washington, Director, Penn Violence Prevention. Erin Cross, GR’10, Director of the LGBT Center at Penn. Ufuoma Pela, Senior HR Director, Provost Center.

Administration: Jen Capozzoli, SPP’17, Associate Director, Center for Student-Athlete Success. Chloe Cole, MPH’17, Assistant Director, Fitness and Wellness. Sarah Parks, W’19, Director of Men’s Basketball Operations. Rosemarie Burnett, Assistant AD/Academic Services and Student-Athlete Success. Kellie Vetter, Administrative Coordinator, Office of the Director of Athletics. Joy De Jesús, WG’02, Senior Associate AD/Chief Financial Officer. Julie Durmala, Senior Accountant/Financial Analyst. Erica Hildenbrand, Director of Recreational Programs. Kevin Bonner, Senior Associate AD/Governance & Administration. Denise Fitzpatrick, Assistant AD/Marketing and Fan Engagement. Mike Mahoney, Director of Athletic Communications.

Co-Chairs: Rudy Fuller, MSOD`20, Senior Associate AD/Chief of Intercollegiate Sports. Matt Valenti, C’07, Associate AD, Center for Student-Athlete Success.