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Reflecting on a Season of Winners and Losers

Reflecting on a Season of Winners and Losers

Black athletes, both college and professional, often get a bad rap for their unseemly conduct outside of the arena or stadium. While they may gain praise for a slam dunk, a mean pitch or a winning time in the 100-meter dash, in many cases — and sometimes justifiably so — that’s where the accolades end.
For the ninth consecutive year, Black Issues In Higher Education is pleased to present athletes in a different light. Our Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Award program recognizes student-athletes who exemplify the high standards of sportsmanship and citizenship embodied by the former tennis luminary for whom the awards are named. This year, we received hundreds of nominations for student-athletes who are not only excelling academically and athletically, but also making valuable contributions to their communities and college campuses. Like Ashe, they are role models to their fellow students, teammates and others.
Two of these scholar-athletes — soccer player Danielle Slaton of Santa Clara University and Archie D. Craft II, a Langston University quarterback — were selected as Sports Scholars of the Year for demonstrating a winning combination of high standards in scholarship, athleticism and humanitarianism. Congratulations to Danielle, Archie and all of the 2001 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars (see page 27).
Speaking of winners, North Carolina A&T State University’s motorsports program is helping the auto-racing industry break new ground on the track and in the design laboratory. The program trains engineering students, not necessarily to drive race cars, but to design them. The students agree that A&T’s program is proving to be a beneficial training ground for those with high-velocity ambitions (see page 58).
Meanwhile, at the University of Michigan, the race to save affirmative action at the undergraduate and law school levels continues. The National Association of Scholars is refuting the university’s argument that having a racially diverse campus is linked to educational benefits. The NAS claims the university is “unable to show a connection between the racial diversity of a student body and alleged educational benefits.” But the university says the NAS is repeating arguments that the federal court already addressed in Gratz v. Bollinger, the university’s undergraduate affirmative action case in which a federal district judge ruled in favor of the university. In his decision, the judge noted that the university had presented solid evidence regarding the educational benefits that come from a diverse student body. In any case, the NAS says they welcome a debate on the impact of diversity (see page 10).
Throughout the country, spring has sprung, but BI correspondent Paul Ruffins reveals that it also has ushered in another bloody season of hazing for some Black fraternities (see page 12). He writes that one of the most troubling aspects of this year’s most violent cases is how similar they are to those of previous years. It is painfully clear that there is still much work to be done by Greek letter organization officials and college and university leaders to convince students that hazing is illegal and will not be tolerated.
An author of a book on Black sororities and fraternities says he thinks it’s going to take a lawsuit that financially destroys one of the nine Black Greek letter organizations before some members change their attitudes. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. In a season of winners, we would hate to lose such a valuable player. 

Hilary Hurd

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A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics