Grambling State University announced Monday the establishment of the Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race and Politics in Sports to engage public education and develop potential social and political solutions to issues concerning professional sports. The Center will be supported by the National Football League (NFL) Campus Connection program and collaborate with the Eddie G. Robinson Museum.
“Politics and race have historically been intertwined in the sporting world,” said Doug Williams, National Football League Executive and Grambling State University alumni. “It’s not a new concept, but it is one that we must educate our future leaders on to cultivate an ideal environment for the next wave of great athletes, coaches and sports leadership.”
Grambling State has sent more players to the NFL than any other Historically Black College and University, including Williams who was the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. In 2010, The University became home to the Eddie G. Robinson Museum, which commemorates the many contributions of University legends to national and global professional sports.
“The sports legacy left by the great Coach Eddie Robinson and so many others makes GSU uniquely positioned as a home for this type of education,” said University President Rick Gallot. “It’s never been clearer that these conversations are essential to making a lasting impact on our athletes and the politics of the sports industry.”
In 1974, Grambling State became the first Historically Black College and University to offer a master’s degree in sports marketing. In 2020, the Doug Williams Center will serve as an academic hub for understanding the intersection of professional sports, politics and race can be used to progress social justice among other key objectives.
“Students can expect assignments that explore the historic significance of sports in racial justice as well as modern case studies like Colin Kaepernick’s protest,” said Dr. Connie Walton, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We are looking forward to the progressive ideas and brilliant initiatives that our students put forth as a result of these relevant studies.”
Campus Connection is just one of several HBCU-focused programs the NFL has implemented to recognize and strengthen its relationships with HBCUs across the country. Through Campus Connection, the NFL will support Grambling State students with career development opportunities such as involvement in career fairs, case study programs, and the Executive Leaders Series hosted by NFL personnel. Student support will also include participation in the NFL Experienceship program which provides nominated students hands-on experience and networking opportunities at NFL Tentpole events.
“The NFL-HBCU partnership acknowledges, celebrates and honors the history and impact HBCUs and their players have had on the game of football,” says Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “We are pleased to honor Grambling State’s historic contribution to both football and the nation by driving awareness for students of color opportunities in professional football beyond the playing field.”
Grambling State’s Athletics Legacy
Grambling State University’s international reputation for excellence in athletics stems from numerous historic contributions and continues to push the boundaries with record-breaking performers.
Coach Eddie G. Robinson, known as the “Winningest Coach in NCAA History” upon retirement, won 408 games at Grambling State during a football coaching career that stretched from 1941-1997. The wins include nine Black College National Championships and 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships. The College Football Hall of Fame inductee graduated over 80 percent of his players and saw more than 200 of his student athletes play in the NFL, including four who are now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“From Coach Wilbert Ellis’s legendary baseball career that began in the 1970s to Shakyla Hill’s historic women’s basketball performance in 2019, Grambling State has the magic when it comes to coaching and athletic success,” said Dr. David Ponton, Athletic Director and Vice President of Student Affairs at Grambling State. “We are now channeling that aptitude into this Center for the purpose of broadening our students’ education and opening minds in our community.”
About the Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race & Politics in Sports
The Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race and Politics in Sports will engage domestic and global conversations on race and politics in sports aimed at helping to identify, analyze, and develop feasible solutions. The Center will leverage the expertise of an advisory board that will include academic leaders, athletes, politicians, and activists to:
- examine the historical role of sports and politics in addressing racial inequality and disadvantage in the domestic and global contexts;
- contribute to national discussions related to race, politics, and diversity in sports;
- promote critical, interdisciplinary, and innovative research and approaches to understanding race and discrimination;
- serve as a think tank to generate insights, identify trends and solutions necessary to achieve positive and sustainable change on race issues;
- collaborate with the NCAA and professional sports leagues to address issues of racial barriers, diversity, and access in athletics;
- and produce tangible products promoting and addressing the challenging issues of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Courtesy: GSU Media Relations