“It’s Like Being on an Island by Yourself”: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Administrators’ Perceptions of Barriers to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work in Intercollegiate Athletics

in Journal of Sport Management

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Yannick KluchCenter for Sport Leadership, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

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Raquel Wright-MairCollege of Education, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, USA

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Nicholas SwimCollege of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

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Robert TurickCollege of Health, School of Kinesiology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA

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The emergence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals (i.e., staff with DEI-specific responsibilities) is a fairly recent phenomenon, and research to date has rarely examined the experiences of these DEI administrators despite the fact they are often solely charged with driving DEI within and beyond their department. Utilizing Ahmed’s diversity work framework, this study draws from semistructured interviews with 23 athletic administrators to identify barriers to efforts for driving DEI action in the context of intercollegiate athletics. Five higher-order themes were identified in the data, representing barriers to effective DEI work: (a) structural barriers, (b) cultural barriers, (c) conceptual barriers, (d) emotional barriers, and (e) social/relational barriers. Findings indicate that DEI athletics professionals perceive barriers on multiple levels, from personal levels (emotional and social/relational barriers) to those of a systemic nature (structural, cultural, and conceptual barriers). Limitations, directions for future research, and implications for praxis are discussed.

Robert Turick is now with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Kluch (ykluch@vcu.edu) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1916-2264

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