Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith issued a strong statement on Sunday afternoon for his department’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the rights of Ohio State athletes to participate in efforts for social change.
Smith, one of three black athletic directors in the Big Ten, said “hate has no place in civil society” and noted how athletes’ voices over the past decade have helped lead to shifts within the school’s athletic department.
“When student-athletes and/or teams come to us with issues with which they want to engage, we provide them resources and support,” Smith said.
“Now, our student-athletes have expressed a desire to engage in the Black Lives Matter movement that has grown from Minneapolis, across the nation, and around the world.
“The department will continue to support our student-athletes as they participate in activities to eradicate hate and racism in our society. Recently, student-athletes have been active on social media platforms denouncing racism, participating in attention and awareness videos promoting Black Lives Matter, holding peaceful demonstrations (Kneel for Nine) and participating in video calls with their teammates and others.
“The Ohio State Department of Athletics supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We will continue to support our student-athletes as they participate in driving positive change in America so that every person is respected regardless of the color of their skin.”
Smith’s statement comes after Ohio State athletes participated in a video supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and also took part in a peaceful protest in Columbus earlier in the week.
Big Ten has started anti-racism task force
Ohio State’s statement comes after Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said the school would start an anti-racism and anti-hate task force in the wake of protests following the killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Warren is the only black Power Five conference commissioner and came to the conference from the Minnesota Vikings.
In his open letter announcing the coalition — which will be made up of people in the Big Ten from athletes to school presidents — Warren said he and his family would be donating $100,000 to a civil rights organization.
“As a black man, I pray every day for the health and safety of my wife and children, especially during interactions with law enforcement,” Warren wrote. “We continue to see inequality and deep divide regarding how members of the black community are treated compared to the rest of society and too often, the results have been horrific and senseless. Such racism and inequality are pervasive, not just endemic in law enforcement.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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