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.
- SEC Opportunity Forum. The SEC announced the inaugural cohort of SEC Opportunity Forum participants, 15 university and conference administrators who will participate in a year-long program designed to connect mid to senior level administrators in the SEC from historically underrepresented groups with industry leaders and assist them with advancement in the profession. The Forum is an outgrowth of the work of the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice and a component of SEC Bylaw 23 - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives. (September 21, 2022)
- Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin Visits with SEC Staff. Randall Woodfin, two-term mayor of the city of Birmingham, Ala., where the Southeastern Conference offices are located, met with the SEC staff to discuss a range of topics. He described his leadership approach during racial unrest in the summer of 2020 and the work of his administration's division of social justice and racial equity. Woodfin concluded the meeting by answering questions and encouraging the staff to engage in hands-on service in the city. (September 1, 2022)
- Observance of Juneteenth Federal Holiday: The SEC staff traveled together to experience the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. Several who attended later shared their perspectives during a regularly scheduled staff meeting. Additionally, the SEC offices were closed on Monday, June 20 to observe the holiday, consistent with other national holiday practices. (June 22, 2022)
- College Football Playoff Foundation Extra Yard for Teachers. For the second consecutive year, the SEC and College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation supported teachers and students in the Atlanta Public School System as part of the CFP Foundation's Extra Yard For Teachers initiative. The CFP Foundation and Official Sponsors of the SEC partnered to provide $10,000 in Donors Choose gift cards to Atlanta Public Schools. (November 2021)
- SEC Student-Athlete Participation in 2021-2022 PSAs. In 2020, SEC student-athletes asked to be involved in the Conference's racial equity and social justice messaging. And, in response several assisted in developing the television public service announcements for 2021-2022. They provided concept ideas, and some were in the PSA, which depicts student-athletes as individuals with multiple and interconnected identities, not simply as entertainers. The PSAs launched in early October 2021.
- SEC Emerging Scholars Program. The SEC announced the SEC Provosts have established an emerging scholars program to help prepare future faculty members. The program provides professional development and networking opportunities for doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers who are considering careers in higher education, with attention provided to those from historically underrepresented groups. (July 1, 2021)
- 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