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Big East assistant coaches found racial equality organization

A group of 21 assistant coaches of color are working with the Big East on initiatives to further racial equality.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Twenty-one Big East assistant coaches of color from around the conference have banded together to establish a coalition for change, named Coaches for Action, following the killing of George Floyd.

The group has spoken with Big East administration, including commissioner Val Ackerman, about a group of things they would like to see change, per CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish:

The administration is supportive of their initiatives, according to former UConn assistant Dwayne Killings, who is now an assistant at Marquette. They are “finalizing plans” to have all of the Big East teams wear Black Lives Matter patches on their jerseys for the upcoming season. As Parrish notes, the Big East would be the first conference to do something of the sort, but potentially not the last. They are also supported by multiple head coaches in the conference as well.

It began with a phone call between Killings and Kyle Neptune, an assistant from Villanova. Then came a call to current UConn assistant Kimani Young.

Young and the other two began working to add in more Big East coaches. A few giant Zoom calls later and they had 21 coaches of color, with at least one from every school in the Big East, committed to founding the organization — including Husky Kenya Hunter.

As a program, UConn has been vocal in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and have posted multiple times on social media discussing it, including this video on the history of Juneteenth just a few days ago.

Head coach Dan Hurley mentioned that the team had been having discussions on what they could do as a program to make change in the local community on issues regarding race during his June 5 teleconference with the media.

From here it seems likely that Big East women’s basketball or even other sports within the conference would take on the same initiatives. We could also see other conferences make the similar moves as well.

Each of the three goals have their own impact, with the third being more short-term. The voting initiative is the most interesting to after looking at some of the student voting statistics at Big East schools.

During the midterm elections in 2018, at Georgetown, a school residing in the nation’s capital, just 49% of eligible student-voters voted in the election, according to a study done by Tufts University. The national average, per the study, was 39.1%. St. John’s reportedly had 52% of students vote, a full 19.1% higher than national average. They were the only two schools to have a report done on the 2018 election by Tufts.

UConn reportedly had a 44% voter turnout, but that was after extensive on-campus work from school organizations like ConnPIRG and the campus student government, according to The Daily Campus.

Despite all three schools scoring above the national average of student voter turnout, as a whole student voters vastly under-performed in terms of the total number of voters who voted in the midterm elections. According the to Census Bureau, 52.4% of all voting-age eligible voters submitted a ballot. Therefore, nationally, student-voters in this study showed up to the polls at a rate 13.3% lower than the national average.

In terms of their goal to increase funding for minority first-generation students, this is also potentially substantial as 56% of first-generation students were without a college degree within six years of attending school, according to a study done by the Center for First-Generation Student Success using data from 2015-16. In comparison, non-first-generation students left without a bachelor’s degree at a rate of 40%.