Amaechi to address Nashville NCAA attendees on gay athletes

The nation’s biggest players in college athletics will be heading to Nashville this week to talk about the diversity of college athletes as part of the NCAA convention that will be held Jan. 10 to 14 at Gaylord Opryland hotel.

John Amaechi, former professional athlete, NBA and former student-athlete, Pennsylvania State University, will be one of three panelists that will participate in a discussion at the NCAA convention in Nashville this Saturday, Jan. 12, entitled “Time Out! A Conversation About Including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Student-Athletes”.

Amaechi, once a star player for the Orlando Magic, is the first NBA player to ever publicly come out as a gay man. He is now retired from basketball and is serving as an official spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project, a program designed to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people come out and live openly.

The program will be moderated by Jill Pilgrim, general counsel, Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Amaechi will be joined by Neil Giuliano, president, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Laurie Priest, director of Athletics, Mount Holyoke College.

The session will address homophobia and the Association’s commitment to an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators. In addition to Pat Griffin’s “It Takes a Team” DVD that is available to all member institutions, the Association also provides sessions on sexual orientation as part of its advanced diversity education program.

“The NCAA's foremost goal is to provide and support student-athletes' educational experience within the context of intercollegiate athletics. To be truly effective in this goal, intercollegiate athletics departments need to be more than diverse - they need to be inclusive of all student-athletes, including LGBT student-athletes. The focus of this panel is to provide awareness of how homophobia adversely affects student-athletes' well being and the climate within athletics; disseminate effective strategies that responsibly address homophobia in collegiate sports, and share best practices currently utilized by NCAA member institutions. Target audience: Athletics administrators from all divisions.”

Jaime Fluker, NCAA assistant director of diversity and inclusion, said people walk away from the diversity education sessions realizing that they “didn’t know what they thought they knew” about sexual orientation.

“There was a time when it was difficult to talk about race. People have become more aware of the value of those conversations and feel more comfortable with them,” Fluker said. “I think that time will come for sexual orientation, through talking about some of these issues and driving home the point about teamwork, about getting better as a group.”

With the session and other inclusive programming, the NCAA hopes to help athletics departments be more diverse and inclusive of all student-athletes. The session will provide awareness of how homophobia adversely affects student-athlete well-being and the climate within athletics and share effective strategies that responsibly address homophobia in college athletics.

Delegates to the 2008 NCAA Convention will also vote on a number of key issues in college sports, including restrictions on text messaging in recruiting, possible Canadian membership in Division II and limits on male practice players in Division III.

Delegates from all three divisions will also discuss future membership growth within the NCAA, including the possible creation of a Division IV.


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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