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Larry Scott - Pac-12 Conference
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Commissioner Larry Scott Explains How Pac-12 Is Handling Race Relations

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott at the pre-game press conference before the Pac-12 Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Levi's Stadium on December 6, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The Oregon Ducks won 37-15. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Race has come to the forefront of society over the past few weeks with the recent protests regarding the death of George Floyd.

Here in Utah Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley was suspended over text message that included a racial slur back in 2013.

This topic is impacting everyone’s lives. There is a lot to learn from what has been going on, and that includes those college-age students. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott joined KSL Unrivaled to explain what the conference is doing in regards to race relations from within.

Scott is meeting with everyone across the conference to hear multiple voices that need to be heard in order to have meaningful conversations and actions on the topic.

“This has emerged as a top priority internally and with our campuses along with this unprecedented health crisis and now we have a race crisis in our country,” Scott said. “We really have tried to be proactive and be engaged with our staff, athletics directors, prominent alumni, and most importantly our student-athletes. We had a few sessions last week with our student-athlete leadership group.”

“First and foremost, we are trying to be active listeners and provide a platform for people to tell their story. They have been raw, powerful, vulnerable, and in a way encouraging and inspiring,” he added.” They have felt open and safe to be able to talk about some of their concerns. Obviously, hate and racism are not new in our country but it does feel like things are different now, and it is somewhat inspiring to see younger generations want to be activists and want to make a difference.”

Working Together Across Campuses

Open communication across campuses and within the conference’s offices is a priority. There are groups being formed and a focus to learn from each other providing an outlet to discuss race and other important issues.

“The conference can play a role in working closely with our campuses on a few levels,” Scott said. “We have a forum for our student-athletes, our black student-athletes but also for all to get together to share best practices to talk about what they are doing on their campuses.

“That was a big focus in our call last week and some athletes were taking notes about dialogue and ideas on one campus and how it might apply to theirs. We have a platform where we can help our student-athletes, coaches, and others to be able to tell their story. We can bring our conference together in unified messaging and action plans.”

Pac-12 Has A History Of Activists

This conference has a long history of its players using their platform to shed light on topics that the world needed to see. One of the biggest names of that group was former UCLA great Lew Alcindor who converted to Islam in 1968 and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He decided to not try out for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games – which he would have been a shoo-in for – and boycott them to bring awareness to the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States.

Scott named a few more people who made significant impacts in regards to race and how the league is fully supporting their athlete’s voices to be heard.

“The Pac-12 has a proud history of being progressive on social issues,” Scott said. “This is a conference with the likes of Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe; we have a long list of student-athletes who have gone on to make a positive difference in this world. Student-athletes are completely supported in trying to use their platform.”

“There is a big emphasis around efforts the conference can make collectively around helping them to register to vote and get out to vote on Nov. 3 or by mail-in ballot. Plus, there is a big focus and discussion around relations with police and what teams and athletic departments can do to connect on a human level to gain a greater understanding and empathy.”

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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