Centennial Conference adopts extensive new DEI strategy endangering meritocracy in sports

The Centennial Conference has launched a comprehensive three-year plan dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Together with a consulting firm called The Red Brick Road Consulting and Coaching, the Division III conference announced the plan Monday. In a 12-page document, Centennial laid out how it would foster DEI and ensure compliance across its 11 member schools.

“As a perennial athletic conference, we believe that diversity and inclusion enhance learning and should be representative of the overall population,” Executive Director Portia Hoeg said. “We have made the decision to not only establish DEI as a cornerstone of our conference; we want to be leaders in this space.”

So let’s dive in.

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The Centennial Conference DEI Plan In 3 Parts

Centennial’s new DEI strategy is focused on three key areas:

Supplement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion-Related Programming and Learning Opportunities

The conference promises to “foster an inclusive environment” by promoting awareness and providing DEI educational materials to schools and student-athletes.

A good example of this initiative is the monthly “diversity digest” email sent to staff members at Johns Hopkins University — a member of the Centennial Conference.

A generic basketball photo of the referee standing on a basketball. (Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

Create Visibility of Conference-Wide DEI Communication and Outreach

In other words, we’re going to publicly pat ourselves on the back frequently for how diverse and inclusive we are.

Enhance Inclusive Policies and Practices Across Member Institutions

This is the big one.

The Centennial Conference promises to “recruit and retain diverse representation in conference membership athletic administration, coaching, staff and student-athletes.”

Per this policy, your chance to make the team could boil down — not to your athletic prowess — but to your skin color or sexual preference.

The conference will also provide yearly DEI report cards for all member schools.

So what does this mean moving forward?

It’s hard to say.

DEI is certainly all the rage right now — both in corporate America and academia. And what it teaches is that things like skin color, gender identity and sexual orientation are more important than qualifications, talent and competency.

As long as you check the right boxes, you can hold a high-ranking position in the White House, become president of an Ivy League University or even be cast in a Disney movie!

Up to this point, though, athletics has been the last beacon of meritocracy. Collegiate and professional sports teams sign the most skilled, most athletic players — because they don’t want to lose. And they definitely don’t want to lose money.

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But the Centennial Conference is a little different. DIII schools don’t award scholarships, their student-athletes don’t collect millions in NIL money and they aren’t beholden to multi-million-dollar TV deals.

In other words, they can afford to virtue signal. Even if it does create a culture of divisiveness, victimhood and mediocrity.


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