Driving Systemic Change: Examining Perceptions of High-Impact Practices for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Intercollegiate Athletics

Raquel Wright-Mair – Rowan University
Yannick Kluch – Virginia Commonwealth University
Nicholas Swim – University of Louisville
Robert Turick – Ball State University

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the experiences of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals in NCAA intercollegiate athletic departments, with a primary focus on understanding how these professionals leverage high-impact practices to contribute to the advancement of DEI work. Understanding what athletics DEI professionals perceive as high-impact practices is important to inform wide-scale changes in policy and procedures that meaningfully support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across intercollegiate athletic departments. Based on 23 semi-structured interviews with DEI professionals in NCAA athletic departments across the U.S., the authors highlight four main high-impact practices that advance DEI work in collegiate athletics: (1) Diverse Hiring & Retention Practices, (2) Holistic and Engaging Support, (3) Culturally Relevant and Responsive Programs, and (4) Infrastructure for Institutional Transformation. Implications for research and practice are outlined in order to further support the successful advancement of DEI – and empower the individuals holding DEI positions – within intercollegiate athletics.