Racial Equity in College Sports Research Awards Announced

[Knight Commission awards $100,000 in research funding]

February 9, 2022—The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics announced today four research projects selected to share $100,000 in research funding to demonstrate how specific interventions impact the Black athlete experience and/or Black athlete advocacy areas.

In its “Achieving Racial Equity in College Sports” report last year, the Knight Commission committed to supporting research that would advance the equity goals highlighted in the report. The Commission’s Call for Proposals resulted in a total of 37 proposals requesting more than $1.5 million in funding. Proposals had to demonstrate a partnership between researchers and athletics administrators at the campus, conference, or national association levels. After a rigorous review of each proposal, Commission members selected four proposals for funding.    

“The overwhelming response to our call for proposals shows a robust research field that should be supported,” said Knight Commission Co-Chair and Racial Equity Task Force Chair Len Elmore. “We had a challenging selection process given the number of quality proposals received. It’s gratifying to make these awards to support researchers who are collaborating with administrators to explore ways to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of Black college athletes.”

The recipients of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics “Achieving Racial Equity in College Sports” Research Awards are:


Title: Alabama State University Athletics’ Four for Forty Initiative

Principal Investigator: Jason Cable, Ph.D.

Additional Researchers: Brianna Clark (Howard University), Travis Smith, Ph.D. (University of Florida), and Ayanna Troutman (University of Florida).

Partnering Institution: Alabama State University

This project will design, execute, and evaluate the holistic development of the institution’s student-athletes in the areas of academic excellence, community service, and personal development, with a special emphasis on self-efficacy and career development facilitated through programs, mentorship, and community engagement.  


Title: The Black Fighting Irish: An Oral History

Principal Investigator: Tracie Canada Ph.D.

Partnering Institution: University of Notre Dame

This study seeks to document and analyze how Black players negotiate juxtaposing systems that appear to value athletics performance but shortchange intellectualism and how Notre Dame Athletics might provide helpful resources to assist with this process.


Title: Building a meaningful mentoring program with and for Black college athletes at a predominately White institution

Principal Investigator: Eric Hall Ph.D.

Additional Researchers: Lauren Walker, Ph.D. (Elon University), Caroline Ketcham, Ph.D. (Elon University), Buffie Longmire-Avital, Ph.D. (Elon University), and Tony Weaver, Ph.D. (Elon University)

Partnering Institution: Elon University

This project aims to identify and recognize the mentoring needs of Black athletes and then establish a mentoring program, which will provide infrastructure to support an integrated network to serve as mentors for Black athletes. The project will provide mentorship development to effectively inform and encourage Black athletes to seek opportunities on campus that support underrepresented groups, mental health needs, and career development.


Title: Creating C.H.A.M.P.S. on Campus (Certificate for Helping Athletes from Minoritized Groups Prosper & Succeed): A Research Proposal for the Development of An Inclusive Leadership Program Designed for Racially Minoritized Student-Athletes’ Success at Predominantly White Institutions

Principal Investigator: Yannick Kluch, Ph.D. (VCU)

Additional Researchers: Raquel Wright-Mair, Ph.D. (Rowan University), and Tomika Ferguson, Ph.D. (VCU).

Partnering Institutions: Virginia Commonwealth University and Rowan University

This project explores the impact of its C.H.A.M.P.S. (Certificate for Helping Athletes from Minoritized Groups Prosper & Succeed), a first-of-its-kind inclusive leadership certificate program designed specifically for minoritized student-athletes, to help them navigate the unique challenges they will encounter at a predominantly white institution and emerge as leaders academically, athletically, and professionally.


The Commission also announced its financial support of another initiative designed to advance its racial equity in college sports goals – a new Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship program created by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). This program will encourage a greater understanding of how those in athletic communications offices can become effective champions for diversity, equity and inclusion in college athletics.

For more information about the Commission’s racial equity in college sports initiatives, visit knightcommission.org. 


About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

The Knight Commission, founded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 1989, is an independent group that leads transformational change to prioritize college athletes’ education, health, safety and success. For more information about the Commission’s impact, recommendations, and reports, visit knightcommission.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.




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