Black Student-Athletes Summit examines relationship between race, sports

Savana Dunning

As one of the few conferences addressing the intersection of race and college athletes, the fourth-annual Black Student-Athletes Summit brought together students and college faculty from universities across the nation this week to discuss the unique experiences of black student-athletes.

“Seeing that UT is a predominately white institution in which all of our major grossing sports are from black athletes, it’s important for people to understand the relationship between black athletes on a white campus, and for black athletes to know their worth on this campus,” exercise science senior Briana Dawkins said. 

Titled “The Power of Race in College Athletics,” the two-and-half-day conference started on Wednesday and met at UT’s AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. It featured conversations about sexual assault, student-athlete activism and the relationship between media and black student-athletes.

“We have a highly visible student population that is under immense amounts of pressure to perform on and off the field, to be model citizens,” said Darren Kelly, summit planning committee co-chair. “Honestly, they’re working what is an adequate to a full time job while they’re going to school, and so it’s imperative that universities have a structure in place to make sure that they’re not only attending to the needs of all student-athletes, but we also want to look at the specific issues facing black student-athletes.”

Honored at the summit was Caylin Moore, a Rhodes Scholar and former TCU football student-athlete. Moore was awarded the first Sean Adams Courageous Activist Award, an award dedicated to sports radio personality Sean Adams who worked with student-athletes.

The keynote speaker for the second day, former NFL defensive lineman Tommie Harris, spoke about how important it is to share experiences and help others.

“All the football, all of the stuff in my life, I feel like God was preparing me for something greater,” Harris said. “As long as you have breath in your body, you have an opportunity to help, to love, to heal.”

The summit partnered with Texas Athletics and was hosted by UT’s African American Male Research Initiative and Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“We wanted to bring together a specific conference for people who are doing this type of research, who are on the frontlines working directly with student-athletes, to be able to talk about how to best support them and get them through to let them be successful off the field,” Kelly said.