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July 8, 2021

The RISE Critical Conversation on Sport, Race & Community-Police Relations streamed Thursday, July 8, on Twitter and Facebook and features St. John’s Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Anderson, BIG EAST Senior Associate Commissioner, Women’s Basketball, and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Tracy Ellis-Ward, Seton Hall Men’s Basketball player Myles Cale RISE Chief Program Officer Dr. Andrew Mac Intosh and ESPN and MSG Networks Basketball Analyst Monica McNutt.

NEW YORK – RISE, the national nonprofit that uses sport to combat racism and unite diverse communities, has partnered with the BIG EAST Conference to bring its Beyond Justice Critical Conversation series to New York City. This series is designed to empower the sports community to lead in identifying and championing actionable steps that address racism and bias in policing, improve relations among law enforcement and communities of color, prevent future violence and create a more inclusive and equitable society.

Airing on the BIG EAST’s Twitter and Facebook pages, the conversation features Tracy Ellis-Ward, BIG EAST Conference Senior Associate Commissioner, Women’s Basketball and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Mike Anderson, St. John’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Myles Cale, Seton Hall Men’s Basketball player, Dr. Andrew Mac Intosh, RISE Chief Program Officer, and moderator, Monica McNutt, ESPN and MSG Networks Basketball Analyst and a former women’s basketball player at Georgetown.

“Sport in itself brings people from different backgrounds together for a common cause, so it makes perfect sense in my mind for sports to take a leadership role in this space,” Ellis-Ward said. “… For me, it is not enough to put out eloquent statements about how wrong discrimination and racism is. We have to take action, and that means rolling up our sleeves, diving in the deep, overcoming the fears, being courageous and being brave to do the right thing at the right time.”

Debuting in Minneapolis this past May, Beyond Justice: A RISE Critical Conversation on Sport, Race & Community-Police Relations is a series of conversations that RISE is hosting with various sport and social justice partners across the country this year. The conversations serve to address the question, “What comes next?” and empower the sports community to lead in outlining actionable steps that address racism and bias in policing. This New York panel, which is second in this series, also highlights the significance of Juneteenth and the importance of voting and civic engagement as New York City just held primary elections for key local offices. Panelists call for more education and reflect on how systemic racism, discrimination and bias continue to exist in our country, including at the local levels.

During the New York Beyond Justice conversation, Anderson shared his experiences as a Black man in athletics and America. As an assistant under barrier-breaking coaching legend Nolan Richardson, Anderson discussed the racism their staff endured before sharing his own experiences with discrimination, including an uncomfortable interaction with police where he was pulled over while head coach at the University of Arkansas before coming to St. John’s.

“I’m in that position of head coach, but what if I’m not the head coach? And that’s what we see all the time,” Anderson said. “There’s still a lot of systemic and racist things taking place, so I’m glad we’re having this conversation. … With all the events that have taken place, we’re at a point where we can get uncomfortable to get comfortable.”

Within the sports community, leaders need to utilize their platforms to engage in these conversations, and Seton Hall’s Myles Cale discussed how he founded his own nonprofit “Cale Cares” to open dialogue between youth from communities of color and police officers in his native Delaware. Cale said, “People can do what I’m doing. It’s not rocket science. Every athlete I’ve talked to has their own platform with thousands of people they can reach out to with a single post. Don’t think your platform is too small.“

The Beyond Justice conversation is the latest program emanating from a two-year partnership between RISE and the BIG EAST that began in 2020. RISE has worked with staff and leadership at the conference level, as well as with all 11 member institutions. Programs have ranged from civic engagement and voter education sessions to diversity, equity & inclusion workshops. All programs are meant to empower athletes, coaches and administrators to be active leaders for addressing matters racism and social justice.

“When you think about activism overall, activism gets a bad rap,” Dr. Mac Intosh said. “It’s seen as this negative thing, as only protests, but there’s a wide range of activism and advocacy, and athletes and organizations have been involved in all of that. … If we understand civic engagement as, the ways in which we can use our resources to improve our communities, [then] civic engagement is what sports organization and all of us in society should be committed to.”

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