In the summer of 2020, the SEC was among many around the world witnessing the unrest and demonstrations in countless cities and communities after the deaths of African American men and women in Minneapolis, Louisville and Brunswick, Georgia. Those events ignited a movement around the equitable treatment of all historically underrepresented individuals, and African Americans in particular.
At that time, the SEC took steps to gather and understand perspectives from a range of stakeholders, including student-athletes, presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, senior woman administrators, faculty athletics representatives, various sport head coaches, mental health professionals and the SEC staff - ultimately establishing the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice in response.
The list below outlines activities and discussions to date related to racial equity, social justice and diversity and inclusion within the Southeastern Conference.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives. The SEC announced establishment of a new Conference bylaw designed to encourage, facilitate and assist its member universities in attracting and hiring individuals from historically underrepresented groups to serve as leaders within their athletics departments, particularly as directors of athletics, senior woman administrators and head coaches. (June 3, 2021)
- SEC New Coaches Orientation. Included JenFryTalks in SEC New Coaches Orientation program, starting with the May 12, 2021, summer session. JenFryTalks is a social justice education firm that uses conversation to educate and empower those within athletics through an anti-racist lens on issues of race, inclusion, intersectionality, diversity, and equity. (May 20, 2021)
- Edward Aschoff SEC Digital Communications Intern. The SEC announced former University of Arkansas student-athlete and recent graduate Sydney Davis had been selected as the first Ed Aschoff intern on April 1, 2021. The internship honors the late Ed Aschoff, a reporter for ESPN and graduate of the University of Florida who died in December 2019 at the age of 34. Aschoff was an advocate for improving representation in the sports media industry, and Aschoff interns will work in partnership with the SEC and ESPN's digital content team at the SEC Network.
- SECSports.com/equality. A page was added to the SEC website to serve as a common, online location for Conference activity related to racial equity, social justice and diversity and inclusion. The page includes public announcements, videos and details on the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice. (November 2020)
- College Football Playoff Foundation Extra Yard for Teachers. The SEC earmarked funds it traditionally receives from the College Football Playoff Foundation Extra Yard for Teachers program to low resource schools in SEC communities. (September 2020)
- TOGETHER. It Just Means More. On September 18, 2020, the SEC announced student-athletes would wear pre-event warm-up shirts that display "TOGETHER. It Just Means More." on the first day of competition in all sports during the 2020-2021 athletic year. The TOGETHER theme was first introduced by the SEC in 2017 when it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the integration of SEC athletics in 1967.
In addition, in conjunction with the opening weekend of football athletics competition, the SEC launched a series of television public service announcements with the TOGETHER. It Just Means More message. The initial announcement was 60 seconds long and aired during every football game played on the September 26, 2020, opening day. Later, the SEC launched four 30-second announcements that featured all sponsored sports and universities.
- SEC Voter Education and Participation Program. On September 3, 2020, the SEC announced its first ever voter and civic engagement effort. Through the SEC Voter Education and Participation Program, all 14 member universities committed to support non-partisan engagement of SEC student‐athletes, coaches and staff in the November 2020 general election and in future local, state and federal elections.
- SEC Student-Athlete Enhancement Grant. The SEC added racial equity, social justice and diversity and inclusion to the list of permissible types of programs funded by the Conference's student-athlete enhancement grant facilitated through applicable campus units. (August 2020)
- SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice. On August 20, 2020, the SEC announced the creation of its Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice, a league-wide body consisting of a diverse group of student-athletes, administrators, coaches and SEC staff. The Council identifies resources, outlines strategies and assists with implementation of efforts that, when taken together, promote racial equity and social justice, while also fostering diversity, helping overcome racism and pursuing non-discrimination in intercollegiate athletics.
- Men's Basketball Officiating Consortium. On June 17, 2020, the SEC announced the addition of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) to the Conference's men's basketball officiating consortium, including appointing the SWAC coordinator of officials as assistant SEC coordinator.
The SEC works regularly with SEC Network producers and directors to craft interviews, specials and regular series that highlight racial equity, social justice and diversity and inclusion. The list below highlights such content.
- Beyond the Whiteboard (A Conversation with Black Head Women's Basketball Coaches)
- The Historic Change that United Mississippi Rivals (A Look at the Creation of the New Flag)
- Roman's Roundtable: The Past and Present Role of Race
- Matter is the Minimum feature on University of South Carolina student-athletes
- Voices for Change Series featuring SEC student-athletes
- Commissioner Greg Sankey on The Paul Finebaum Show
- Features and pieces on regular SEC Now and SEC Nation broadcasts