(Un)Doing Diversity Work in a “Diverse” Space: Examining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work in Historically Black College and University Athletics

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A. Lamont Williams San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6851-7282 *
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Marcis Fennell University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

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Yannick Kluch University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have taken center stage in intercollegiate athletics in response to renewed momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (to name a few) in 2020. Following the trend, athletics diversity and inclusion officer positions have been developed to implement DEI programming and strategy in athletics on respective campuses. However, while research on DEI programming at historically White institutions is well established, inquiries on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are rare. To fill this gap in the literature on strategic DEI efforts, the present study aims to analyze the current landscape of DEI work at HBCUs. Drawing from racialized organization theory, we argue that the contemporary conceptualization of DEI hinders the perceptual need for DEI programming at HBCUs. Thus, the monolithic approach of DEI programming cannot remain the pragmatic solution to inequitable experiences in NCAA athletics, specifically at HBCUs. Considerations include budgetary allocations, professional development, and the overall athlete experience.

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