The University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, has earned the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association's 2018 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. The school will receive the honor in January at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
The diversity award is a partnership between the NCAA and MOAA to recognize and celebrate the diversity and inclusion initiatives, policies and practices of colleges, universities and athletics conference offices. Past honorees have been recognized for their hiring practices, professional development, programming initiatives and community outreach that enhance opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds, culture and experiences.
"We are thrilled to celebrate Buffalo's athletics and university-wide commitment to establish an inclusive environment in athletics, on campus and in the community with the 2018 NCAA/MOAA Award for Diversity and Inclusion," said Katrice Albert, NCAA executive vice president for inclusion and human resources. "Buffalo has been focused and intentional in promoting diversity and inclusion in numerous policies, programs and practices and has set a high bar with its efforts to drive inclusive excellence. We're also delighted that the student-athletes are intimately involved in shaping their campus environment to be more welcoming where everyone can thrive."
"This award encompasses what each of our athletics departments strives to emulate, and we are honored to recognize the commitment to diversity and the efforts of Buffalo and its athletics director, Allen Greene," said Peggy Davis, president of MOAA and Virginia State director of athletics. "Our association, along with the NCAA, looks forward to honoring the university in January and at the MOAA Symposium in June."
Buffalo earned the diversity and inclusion award for its comprehensive and campus-impacting programming, and has linked many of its values to student-athlete development and well-being. The school developed a student-athlete survey that is given at the end of each competitive season that centers on whether the athletes believe an inclusive culture continues to be fostered within athletics and if additional education is needed. A peer mentoring program also was created that encourages student-athletes to support one another around various life topics, which include issues on race, ethnicity, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.
The school also instituted a Diversity Athletic Council, where student-athletes participate in inclusive-related discussions on topics such as immigration and international matters, gender equity and race. Buffalo also supported freedom of expression with a departmental video that educates student-athletes on how to thoughtfully express opinions surrounding social issues and race. Athletics also works with a gender subcommittee of university officials that addresses equitable treatment and issues and has placed added awareness on sexual assault violence prevention on campus.
The athletics department added statements and policies that confirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion to its website and developed public announcements for athletics competitions that state the school's zero-tolerance policy for derogatory remarks and slurs. Buffalo also has focused on LGBTQ education and has reiterated its support of the governor's executive order stating teams and staff cannot travel to states that have discriminatory practices.
The Buffalo Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, along with the Mid-American Conference Council of Student-Athletes, has supported hosting a weeklong event dedicated to disability awareness, religious inclusion, multicultural engagement, gender/sexual orientation and campus unity. The school also has worked with the conference on an initiative called Team IMPACT, which gives student-athletes and staff a better understanding of people with disabilities.
"It is deeply gratifying to see our commitment to diversity and inclusion being recognized at the national level," Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said. "Diversity and inclusion are central to all of our programs across the university. These are core values of our institutional mission."
"The Buffalo athletics family is humbled and incredibly honored to receive this prestigious award recognizing our commitment to diversity and inclusion," said Greene, Buffalo's athletics director. "We are relentlessly passionate in our efforts to provide student-athletes, coaches and staff with a tolerant and accepting environment. We want to thank the NCAA and MOAA for establishing this recognition, which highlights the importance of celebrating our differences on the national level."
"It is a fantastic honor for Buffalo to receive the NCAA and MOAA 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Award," said Kathy Twist, senior associate athletics director for sport administration and senior woman administrator. "The University at Buffalo is a community committed to diversity and inclusion. With the collaboration of campus and community resources, we continue to build an inclusive community strengthened by our differences and supported by our caring, fairness and the belief we can create a world of peace and harmony."
Along with Buffalo's recognition, the NCAA and MOAA also recognized Northeastern, the America East Conference and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association with honorable mention for their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Buffalo's honor marks the third time in the six years the award has been given that a school from the Mid-American Conference has earned the NCAA and MOAA Award for Diversity and Inclusion. MAC schools Bowling Green State (2017) and Northern Illinois (2016) also earned the honor.
- Gail Dent, NCAA