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Recap: The Black Student Athlete in the Age of Black Lives Matter

Black Student-Athlete Summit 2017

image of bsaOn the surface, star college athletes are set for life. They’re making headlines, praised by their coaches and earning a degree at a top university. But underneath it all, many student athletes of color are facing a host of unique challenges – from identity conflict to mental health issues to lack of support from coaches and professors.

At the 2017 Black Student-Athlete Summit, an annual event hosted by the DDCE’s African American Male Research Initiative, more than 300 people came together to address the many factors that contribute to this reality. Through speaker presentations, town hall meetings and workshops they combined their areas of expertise to boost success for student athletes—on and off the field. This year’s summit revolved around the theme “The Black Student Athlete in the Age of Black Lives Matter.” Speakers and guests included coaches, athletic directors, administrators, athletes, professors and professionals in the athletics industry.

Below are just a few quotes and images from the summit. Visit KVUESpectrum News and ESPN’s The Undefeated blog for more coverage of the 2017 Black Student-Athlete Summit. Be sure to join the online conversation by using this hashtag: #BlackStudentAthlete.

bsa panel “What you call and label someone is how they are going to potentially perceive themselves.” – The Black Student Athlete Historical Perspective Panel


image of bsa“Leadership can be really lonely and you have to be okay with that. We have to be okay with not fitting in.”  – Felicia Martin, associate athletic director for academic services, Texas Tech University


image of bsa“Don’t be afraid in these discussions – get comfortable being uncomfortable.”  – Head Texas Longhorns Football Coach Tom Herman


image of bsa“We’re talking about athletics as a cash crop. We’re talking about pivotal moments to change the system.”  – Daron Roberts, founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation, UT Austin


image of bsa On the Baylor sexual assault case: “You can talk about so many aspects of what happened there and what happens in so many other programs as well, and it sort of speaks to the culture both within college sports, college football, but within universities at large right now.” –  Jessica Luther, journalist and author.  Read more of her interview in The Undefeated. 


image of bsa“We stress this excellence on the field, but in the classroom mediocrity is OK.”  – Martin Smith, assistant professor of education, Duke University


bsa pic “Of all the programs that are available, it’s up to the students to make it happen, and for the people around them to push them toward the right resource.” – Participant at the closing town hall discussion.

The conference is part of the DDCE’s annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, which features events throughout the spring semester. Stay tuned to the DDCE news blog for more details about upcoming events.