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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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NAACP Encourages Black College Athletes to Look Outside Florida

  • Public schools in the Sunshine State—including Florida, North Florida, and Florida International—have closed their DEI offices in recent weeks due to a new law.
  • The NAACP’s president sent a letter to NCAA president Charlie Baker outlining the issue. 
Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

The head of the NAACP asked Black college athletes to reconsider playing at public colleges in Florida in light of state schools recently eliminating their diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, most notably at the University of Florida.

“This is not about politics,” Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s president and CEO, wrote in a letter to NCAA president Charlie Baker. “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.”

In 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that prohibits the use of state funds for DEI programs. In accordance, the University of Florida has closed its Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, eliminating almost 30 positions with it. North Florida and Florida International have also closed their DEI programs in recent weeks.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, who starred at Florida in the late ’80s, recently took to X (formerly known as Twitter), to voice his displeasure with his alma mater’s decision to close its DEI office and encouraged UF athletes who are people of color to speak out about the decision, writing: “I’m utterly disgusted by UF’s decision and the precedent that it sets. … We need diverse thinking and backgrounds to enhance our university, and the DEI department is necessary to accomplish those goals. … Instead of showing courage and leadership … UF has conformed to the political pressures of the time.”

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