Ivy hoops coaches pledge formal support for Black Lives Matter, detail accountability measures

The Ivy League on Friday announced an initiative including all 16 men’s and women’s basketball programs expressing commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Called “Ivy Promise,” the initiative comes with a message from the 16 women’s and men’s basketball head coaches:

We have heard our student-athletes’ and communities’ call to action. The anger, disappointment and hurt felt across our country in recent weeks has been eye-opening and inspired important conversations in our communities. This is how we will stand together to proceed forward on the path of making progress for humanity. This is our promise.The Ivy Promise represents the Ivy League basketball coaches’ commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. While individually our platforms are influential, combined our platforms can be a catalyst for change. We are committed to achieving reform. We will stand against inequality and discrimination until all people are afforded the same opportunities in wages, healthcare, housing, education, and criminal justice. Together we will stand for justice, educate the people, and support our communities.Our initial action items as a league are as follows:

  • As the Head Coaches of Ivy League Basketball, we will use our status and privilege to be vocal advocates for equality for all.
  • When possible, our programs will buy from local black and minority owned businesses to help uplift our communities economically and decrease the wealth gap.
  • Our coaches and student-athletes will not only participate in All Vote No Play on November 3, but also use our voting power in local and state elections because that is where topics like criminal justice reform begin.
  • We will use our games on MLK Day and during Black History Month in February to avidly celebrate Black history and Black excellence.
  • Each Ivy League basketball team will donate to and volunteer with the local organizations that are working to address the specific needs of our community.

This is just the beginning.

The 16 Ivy League basketball head coaches have each responded to the following questions:

  • Why is the Ivy Promise important to you?
  • What does it mean to be part of a league that supports this movement?
  • What specific actions are you taking to hold yourself and your program accountable?

Here are their answers:

Why is the Ivy Promise important to you? 

Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s head coach:

The Ivy Promise is important to me because a promise is synonymous with a commitment. The Ivy Promise represents our league’s collective commitment to supporting a cause – eliminating systemic racism and establishing a more equal society – that is right, and that is long overdue.

Carla Berube, Princeton women’s head coach: 

The Ivy Promise puts our collective sentiments and feelings about the Black Lives Matter movement into action. As Ivy League basketball coaches, we are committed to the Black Lives Matter movement on our campuses and among our teams. We have promised to listen, to educate, to create safe and inclusive environments, to be active allies to the black community, to be vocal advocates and not stay silent when we see and hear about social injustices.

Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard women’s head coach:

The Ivy Promise is important to me because I have learned more about anti-racism in the last three weeks than in the last thirty years. I have felt more motivation, energy and drive. I have seen more resilience and determination and I am more hopeful than ever because of the historic changes we are already seeing.

Steve Donahue, Penn men’s head coach:

I believe it’s show of commitment by the coaches to continue to work on racial injustice. This is not a one-shot deal but something that will be built into the fabric of the league going forward.

Brian Earl, Cornell women’s head coach:

The Ivy Promise is critically important because it represents a coalition of staunch competitors that have a stake in the future of the country agreeing to take explicit action in the way we want to shape that future. We are united in sending the message that Black Lives Matter in our locker rooms and our campuses.

Jim Engles, Columbia men’s head coach: 

It assures that we take action on the very important issues that face our society today. One promise made by so many people becomes a powerful agent for change.

Megan Griffith, Columbia women’s head coach:

It is more than just a statement; it is an action plan for change. Our Ivy League coaches are committing to tangible steps to fight racism and inequality while celebrating black lives and making a concerted effort to better humanity.

Allison Guth, Yale women’s head coach: 

This stands as a charter for creating an anti-racist culture of belonging that I believe in. It is with our collective voice that we acknowledge our awareness and authentically transition that into a long-term impact plan that is committed to the Black Lives Matter movement. We have an opportunity to be agents for change and to bring humanity together by standing up for what is right.

Mitch Henderson, Princeton men’s head coach:  

The Ivy Promise is important to me because it will generate long overdue change.  Across the League, the head coaches have committed to showing empathy, to listening, and to leading on our campuses. While we’ve all been doing this individually, as a collective group our voices become amplified as together we commit to fighting systemic racism.

James Jones, Yale men’s head coach: 

The promise keeps the passion and the dedication for change alive.

Belle Koclanes, Dartmouth women’s head coach:

The Ivy Promise is an important step for us, as coaches, to actively demonstrate that we stand together in doing our part to be the change we so desperately seek. We each have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity, as leaders of young adults from across the globe, to continue to build inclusive, transparent and authentic experiences for our student-athletes. The Ivy Promise expresses both our individual and collective commitment to humanity.

Monique LeBlanc, Brown women’s head coach:

Clearly right now is a time for action and leadership in the fight against anti-Black racism. Individually, it’s easy to feel like your personal actions aren’t enough, so knowing that a larger group of head coaches shares the same commitment and call to action is powerful. It’s vital to have an unremitting action plan, and that is what our promise is about.

Mike Martin, Brown men’s head coach:  

The Ivy Promise to me means that each of the sixteen basketball programs in the league are committed to using our platforms to try to impact change when it comes to social injustice and racial inequality.  We are committed together to take initiatives that will be league wide for all programs and we are also committed to lead by example on our respective campuses and in our respective communities.

David McLaughlin, Dartmouth men’s head coach:

As educators, mentors, and coaches, a key role is to have critical conversations with our players. This Ivy Promise ensures that we will continue to help educate each other!

Mike McLaughlin, Penn women’s head coach: 

The Ivy Promise is important to me because it shows the commitment that we are making to bring about real change. It holds us as coaches and leaders accountable to put our words into immediate action.

Dayna Smith, Cornell women’s head coach:

The Ivy Promise is so critical to the Black Lives Matter movement. It is important to hold ourselves and each other accountable, and allows us to use our platform to promote education, action and progress. The Ivy Promise provides us all with concrete steps we can and will take to ensure that we are part of the change.

What does it mean to be part of a league that supports this movement? 

Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s head coach:

I am incredibly proud to represent Harvard and to be a part of the Ivy League. I am especially proud because our league is not only making statements, but also making stands. It is one thing to talk about action, and another to act. By uniting around the Ivy Promise, we are taking action and carrying forward the missions of our respective institutions.

Carla Berube, Princeton women’s head coach:

I am proud to be a member of this incredible group of educators and leaders. We’re all passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement and we don’t want this momentum to slow down.

Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard women’s head coach:

I have always believed that the Ivy League is the model in this country for academic and athletic excellence and once again, I could not be more proud of how the League has stepped up and taken immediate action, from the top down, all schools, all sports.

Steve Donahue, Penn men’s head coach:

I’ve been in the league for 26 years; this is the most important venture we have initiated during this time. I feel we can be a catalyst for other leagues and other sports to follow suit. I’m proud of the leadership by all the coaches to realize how important it is for us to stand up for what is needed and what is right.

Brian Earl, Cornell women’s head coach:

I am proud that the Ivy League coaches vocally support this movement – it is an integral part of my team’s, my University’s, my community’s and my country’s future.

Jim Engles, Columbia men’s head coach: 

The Ivy League is a special place in so many ways. The standard of excellence that comes with our league academically and athletically is inspiring. Our athletes can change the world. This is another example of the leadership that they exhibit on a daily basis.

Megan Griffith, Columbia women’s head coach:

As an alum and coach, I am very proud to know that our league has united to use our collective power and be an agent of actual change.  I hope that all the other conferences are doing the same.

Allison Guth, Yale women’s head coach: 

I am proud to work alongside leadership both in the Ivy League and at Yale that recognizes the importance of standing together for justice. We understand this is just the beginning and we are committed to be the change.

Mitch Henderson, Princeton men’s head coach:  

I am proud to stand in solidarity with my fellow Ivy League basketball coaches as we carry out these initiatives. I vow to continue to learn and grow from my team, my co-workers and my fellow head coaches.

James Jones, Yale men’s head coach:

I’m proud to be among a group of coaches that understand the difficulties that face minorities in this country and that are dedicated to help in the efforts of change.

Belle Koclanes, Dartmouth women’s head coach:

It is absolutely imperative that, as a league, we show by our words and most importantly, by our actions, that Black Lives Matter. It means that we, as human beings, care deeply about moving humanity forward.

Monique LeBlanc, Brown women’s head coach:

It means everything to know that our League supports the urgency for action. There is so much work to be done and progress to be made. Our league is filled with passionate student-athletes, coaches, and administrators who collectively have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact.

Mike Martin, Brown men’s head coach:  

I’ve always felt extremely fortunate to be part of the Ivy League.  To see the league support this movement is so meaningful during these very difficult times.  We represent eight of the finest institutions in the world and while we compete on the court against each other, we are all united in this effort and feel fortunate that the league supports it.

David McLaughlin, Dartmouth men’s head coach:

The collective time, effort, shared ideas, and communication from all of the coaches was special to be a part of. It is special that we can have a collective voice from all of the men’s and women’s coaches and programs as One Ivy and The Ivy Promise.

Mike McLaughlin, Penn women’s head coach: 

It means that we are part of a league comprised of strong leaders who share core values rooted in the genuine desire to do what is right. The sense of unity and the call to action is extremely powerful. I love the sense of purpose all our coaches have had during this critical period.

Dayna Smith, Cornell women’s head coach:

I feel so very proud and fortunate to be a part of the Ivy League at this moment. The fact that the Ivy League Women’s and Men’s Basketball coaches and staffs can come together to support each other, our universities, our communities and our student-athletes is a credit to the character of our league and the basic fundamental foundation of higher education.

What specific actions are you taking to hold yourself and your program accountable? 

Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s head coach:

Our first action is to continue to emphasize a core value that we have always had in our program: to do well and to do good. We are proud of all of the initiatives and programming that we have in place already, and are eager to find new avenues to do more – in education, in community outreach, etc. We also pledge to continue to support our players and to continue to establish an environment where we can have dialogue about important social issues.

Carla Berube, Princeton women’s head coach: 

We have committed to having open dialogue within our team, educating ourselves through books, podcasts and documentaries and supporting a grassroots organization in our nearby city and community of Trenton, N.J. We’re also connecting with our Black women’s basketball alumnae to talk about their experiences at Princeton and to be a support system for our current team.

Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard women’s head coach:

We have appointed co-chairs of our Friend’s Group to oversee equity, diversity and inclusion.  We have associated with Big Sister Boston to mentor and role model. We will look to continue to educate every time we travel and we will add antiracism strategies to our ongoing leadership development program.

Steve Donahue, Penn men’s head coach:

The coaches and players in our program had already been having discussion about the action items in the Ivy Promise, and so I know we will be very cognizant of our efforts. So we will always have Election Day off from all mandatory basketball activities going forward. Leading up to elections, I will be promoting on social media information about election days, deadlines for voter registrations, and candidate information. MLK Weekend will used for awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. We will make concerted efforts to support local Black-owned businesses, whether it’s here in Philadelphia or on our road trips around the country. In addition, I will continue listening to my current and future Black players on how we can continue to fight against racial injustice.

Brian Earl, Cornell women’s head coach:

Our team has had many chances to listen to and discuss the experiences of our minority players to promote an open dialogue within the program. We are promoting the accomplishments and projects of our black alumni and we plan on expanding our outreach to the local black community when we can gather again in person.

Jim Engles, Columbia men’s head coach: 

I’m very proud of our program and the steps that we are Implementing. We are constructing a calendar of actions that will take place. Not only does it include items that our team will be involved with, but also with the Columbia community as a whole. We are all excited to get started.

Megan Griffith, Columbia women’s head coach:

Everyone in our program is educating themselves on voting. We have pledged to vote on the local, state and national levels.  We are crafting a partnership with a local Harlem youth organization so that our team can serve as mentors and leaders. We are having daily and weekly conversations to educate, listen and share with our immediate team and alumni community. Several members of our team have peacefully protested in Columbus, Ohio, Iowa City, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Our student-athletes have been part of creating an Instagram handle called Dribbling4Justice to bring collegiate athletes together to advocate for change. Personally, I am part of Columbia’s Diversity Inclusion Committee and donating to the Columbia Neighbors Food Relief Fund.

Allison Guth, Yale women’s head coach: 

Yale’s School of Management leadership expert Heidi Brooks explained the importance of leaders not reducing the level of complexity of an issue such as structural inequality and racism.  As a leader I want to honor that complexity and implement a long-term impact plan. We are creating a deep learning orientation through reading books, watching films, studying history and current events in the media, and having conversations. This will help to establish our team’s game plan for change and fulfilling our Ivy Promise.

Mitch Henderson, Princeton men’s head coach: 

Specifically, our team has begun to partner with the Trenton Boys and Girls Club. We are grateful to assist in their reading program and to help fill volunteer positions. We are fully committed long term to engaging with all their members wherever necessary.

James Jones, Yale men’s head coach:

Our staff will work together each and every day to generate ideas to help our community.  We’ve also come up with projects that our team will implement monthly so that we never stop pushing for change.

Belle Koclanes, Dartmouth women’s head coach:

Our entire DWB family is committed to changing the narrative by taking these specific actions:

  • Currently having intentional dialogue about race with our team via zoom every other Wednesday from 4pm-5:30pm. This time together is called “Change the Narrative: A DWB Community Conversation.”
  • Volunteering our time and resources to local organizations who are working towards the change we seek.
  • Listening and educating ourselves so that we can serve as active allies, with compassion and empathy, for change in our communities.

Monique LeBlanc, Brown women’s head coach:

It’s important to recognize our own bias and privilege, so we are starting with greater education to help identify those areas. Understanding the systemic part of racism requires intentionality, and that is what we are doing. We will have monthly events on our team calendar that bring our focus to racial & social justice. We also have a resource list that we will be learning from as a team and will host weekly listen/read & learn discussions throughout the summer. I’ll also continue to create space for dialogue and listen to great ideas from others that would be beneficial to adopt in our program.

Mike Martin, Brown men’s head coach:  

Specifically, our men’s program at Brown is committed to having ongoing internal conversations about race and social justice.  We are committed to educating ourselves on the history of systemic oppression in our country.  We are committed to holding each other accountable to learn, listen, and be authentic when we have these conversations.  We promise to celebrate black excellence in our country’s history but also in our university and program history.  We are committed to raising awareness about the opportunity to vote, to all exercise our right to vote, and encourage all of those throughout our campus to vote.  We promise to support black owned businesses and, lastly, we are committed to continue to look for ways where we can make a difference at Brown and in Providence and commit to action when we see those opportunities.

David McLaughlin, Dartmouth men’s head coach:

Beyond the numerous conversations we have had as a group, we have formed an everyday action plan for our program to denounce racism and fight for equality. In addition to this everyday plan, we have established numerous action items that we will do as a program on Dartmouth’s campus and within the Upper Valley community to help spread conversation, education, and change.

Mike McLaughlin, Penn women’s head coach: 

Together our coaching staff and players will implement a plan of action that will be ingrained in who we are and what we do each and every day. A few specific examples include a shared focus on education through reading, listening, and reflecting on documentaries and books throughout the season, inviting guest speakers to talk to our team on a regular basis, supporting Black-owned businesses both on and around our campus as well as when we travel, and adopting two Philadelphia Elementary Schools where we will commit to a year of service and run a campaign to build new libraries at each of those schools through book donations.

Dayna Smith, Cornell women’s head coach:

Our program has been working on an action plan with realistic goals and timetables for achieving change. We are making it a priority to educate ourselves and develop ways to make change a part of our everyday lives. We promise to be more active in our own community, and to make sure we are exhausting every avenue to be more present as role models for change at Cornell.

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