Edison, N.J. (Aug. 20, 2020) – The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) today announced the commencement of its MAAC United for Justice campaign. The announcement comes following the MAAC Presidents’ previous statement on racism and the recognition that lasting change comes from action from a collective movement, not a moment.
“On behalf of the MAAC presidents, I share my deep gratitude for the work being done on our campuses and beyond as our student-athletes, coaches and administrators seek to promote education for social justice and combat racial injustice,” said Niagara University President and MAAC President Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. “We know this is a long and winding road, and we are fortunate to have such an amazing group of people who are committed to becoming the change we seek for our society.”
In the 2020-21 season, the MAAC will work both internally at the conference office and with all 11 member institutions to advance and execute strategies to combat racial injustices within our society. The MAAC and its member institutions will work to address the long-standing history of systemic racism and inequality that minorities in this country have and still currently face, with a goal to educate those around us and to create substantial change in our communities.
The MAAC basketball programs have united to focus their messaging platform for the upcoming season on Black Lives Matter. Specifically, the coaches will be showcasing the Black Lives Matter messaging on warm up shirts and uniform patches.
“The MAAC is incredibly proud of its student-athletes, coaches, and administrators who are working to make an impactful and lasting change,” added MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “Change comes from a movement that involves an entire collective group working towards common goals and desires, not a single moment in time. A groundwork for change has been established in the MAAC, it is up to all of us involved to ensure systemic racism, violence, and oppression are brought to the forefronts of minds in our communities and that awareness is raised to bring the change we want to see in our society.”
Moving forward, the MAAC and its member institutions will continue to make conscious efforts to promote education and raise awareness of social issues. Elements of the MAAC United for Justice campaign will be found on school campuses, MAAC live game broadcasts, online, and on social media. With the input of student-athletes, coaches, and administrators, new ideas will continuously be welcomed. The MAAC and all its members are committed to making lasting change in our society.
“The conversations about social justice and racial inequality occurring within the MAAC is an important step in the right direction, and I applaud our basketball coaches for leading this effort,” said Canisius College Director of Athletics Bill Maher. “As one of 27 Jesuit Colleges and Universities in the nation, Canisius has social justice as a foundational element in both our institutional vision and in our educational curriculum. It is through this promotion of justice that our students learn to become men and women for and with others. I believe each of our 11 member institutions in the MAAC are bound by similar foundational values. Because of this, the MAAC is uniquely positioned to use this common platform as a collective voice for change in America.”
What to expect moving forward:
· MAAC and school Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC) will assist in spreading awareness of ongoing programs, beginning with the recently announced Voter Registration Initiative with a goal to ensure all student-athletes have the ability and means to exercise their right to vote come Election Day. In support of the program, student-athletes will be granted a mandatory day off from athletic activities on Nov. 3 to ensure they can exercise their right to vote.
· MAAC SAAC is also currently working on developing a Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee to add to its governance structure to give student-athletes a platform to discuss topics with conference administrators.
· For the upcoming basketball season, the MAAC will provide member schools with floor decals and digital board content that focuses on the Black Lives Matter and MAAC United for Justice messaging.
· The MAAC is committed to organizing diversity and inclusion programming to educate administrators, coaching staffs and student-athletes.
· Teams will be encouraged to develop and participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming to celebrate his legacy and commitment to social change.
· An Education Day programming element developed by women’s basketball head coaches will take place in the month of February to teach kids in local communities the importance and influence of Black History Month.
· Basketball coaches will participate in a reading program that will directly benefit elementary and middle schools in their communities.
· For all sports, student-athletes and coaches will have the opportunity to wear social justice patches, pins, and pregame warmup shirts to show support on gamedays.
· Early in July, the Coaches 4 Change organization was founded by college basketball coaches who are dedicated to help their student-athletes, their campus, and their communities. Siena Men’s Basketball Head Coach Carmen Maciariello serves as the Executive Director of the organization and will play a pivotal role in serving the group’s mission to provide a platform that engages, educates, empowers and evolves the collegiate student-athlete on issues of social injustices, systemic racism and the power of voting. The MAAC will seek to gain wide support from within the league and throughout Division I for the program.
· The MAAC will further develop the MAAC Gives Back program in Atlantic City on a virtual basis this upcoming year with a continued effort to educate local students and to keep an open conversation on diversity and inclusion. The MAAC Hercules Tires Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships moved to Atlantic City this past season for a three-year term expiring in 2022.