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NAACP Urges Student-Athletes Reconsider Florida After DEI Elimination

Black student-athletes should reconsider attending public colleges and universities in Florida, the NAACP advised in its letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker and current and prospective student-athletes.

“This is not about politics,” read the letter, characterized as a rebuke of anti-Black ideals. “It’s about the protection of our community, the progression of our culture, and most of all, it’s about your education and your future.”

Leon W. RussellLeon W. RussellThe March 11 letter — signed by NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson — was written in response to the University of Florida and other state schools that have eliminated their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.

In 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting the use of state funds for any DEI programs. The University of Florida shuttered the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, eliminated 13 full-time DEI positions, ended 15 administrative appointments, and disbanded DEI-focused contracts with outside vendors. The AP noted a university memo stated that staff whose jobs were eliminated will get 12 weeks of pay and be able to apply for other positions by April 19.

Russell and Johnson wrote that, for Black student-athletes, collegiate sports may be their sole opportunity toward achieving upward mobility.

“This imbalance of power and profit demands a response, particularly because these institutions reap considerable financial benefits from the very individuals they fail to stand by in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” they wrote. “If any institution is to reap the benefits of Black talent, it is only right that they completely invest in Black futures.”

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