Athletics launches social justice initiative

The Unity Walk in June was one of the first steps of the USF player-led push for social justice. USF on Friday announced new initiatives to combat racism and social injustice. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF Athletics announced on Friday several new social justice initiatives, including the further development of an Inclusive Excellence Committee and the implementation of voting education and a voting holiday on Nov. 3.

“USF Athletics is committed to equality, unity and justice and we feel it is important to continue to enhance our programming and support for our student-athletes and staff in that area and take further action in support of those ideals,” Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said in a statement.

The Inclusive Excellence Committee, which was established in July, includes representation from all teams and was created to evaluate the Athletics department in areas of diversity, inclusion, racial justice and LGBTQ+.

As a visual symbol of the new initiative, all USF teams will wear a black “United” patch on their jerseys during the 2020-21 season. 

Players also have the option of wearing Adidas-branded Black Lives Matter (BLM) warm-up shirts prior to games.

Additionally, USF football players will wear “BLM” emblems on the back of their helmets throughout the season.

In June, the NCAA encouraged its member schools to give athletes Nov. 3 off to vote in the general election. USF is following the NCAA’s recommendation by clearing team and staff calendars that day. Voter education webinars and a voter registration initiative have been implemented and will continue through the fall.

The Athletics department worked with athletes to create the new social justice initiatives, and players will be given the opportunity to appear in team-specific videos to voice messages promoting social justice.

“We worked closely with our student-athletes to implement programs and develop visual reminders of our role in helping promote and produce positive social change,” Kelly said.