NAACP asks student-athletes to reconsider Florida

Updated:

The NAACP on Monday sent a letter to current and prospective college athletes urging them to reconsider attending public universities in Florida due to the elimination of diversity, equity and inclusion programs in recent months by many state institutions.

The letter, also addressed to NCAA President Charlie Baker, cited what it claimed is Florida Governor Ron DeSanits’ “devaluation of Black America.”

“Now, as a result of his administration’s anti-Black ideals, all state-funded universities in Florida will be forced to dismantle their diversity, equity, and inclusion programs,” read the letter, signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and chairman Leon W. Russell.

In May 2023, DeSanits signed into law Senate Bill 266. One of the provisions of the bill prohibits public universities in the state from spending public funds on any programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In January of this year, the state’s Board of Governors voted to ban spending public money on DEI programs in the state.

Earlier this month, the University of Florida announced the closure of its DEI office, which included the elimination of 13 full-time positions and the ending of an additional 15 administrative appointments.

“While the University of Florida may be the first, they will not be the last,” the NAACP’s letter read.

Last week, University of Florida alumnus and Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith blasted his alma mater for the decision to eliminate its DEI program.

“Instead of showing courage and leadership, we continue to fail based on systemic issues and with this decision,” Smith posted on X. “UF has conformed to the political pressures of today’s time.”

The University of North Florida and Florida International University have also begun the process of eliminating their DEI programs.

In addition to the letter, Johnson said in a statement:

“The value Black, and other college athletes bring to large universities is unmatched. If these institutions are unable to completely invest in those athletes, it’s time they take their talents elsewhere. The NAACP will remain unwavering in our efforts to hold Governor Ron DeSantis, and all oppressive elected officials accountable for their attempts to unravel our democracy.”