St. John’s Athletics Launches Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice

Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice to Lead Department-Wide Commitment to Assess, Educate, Provide Opportunity and Utilize Platforms to Gain Greater Awareness.

Produced by: Red Storm Sports

St. Johns Flag
August 5, 2020

St. John's Athletics has announced a newly created Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice to lead a department-wide effort to help advance the University's commitment to anti-racism, social justice and equality.
The action-oriented Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice will be chaired by Eric Rienecker, Associate Athletics Director for Student Services, who will be joined by esteemed members of the Department of Athletics and University community.
The council also includes assistant track & field coach Aliann Pompey, a four-time Olympian and current President of the Panam Sports Athletes' Commission, men's basketball special assistant and 11-year NBA veteran Paul PresseyAlexandra Parise, Assistant Director of Academic Support for Student-Athletes, who spearheads the St. John's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and Fr. Richard Rock, Campus Minister for Athletics. 
A St. John's male and female student-athlete will also be named to the Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice for the 2020-21 academic year.
Members of the University community who will serve on the committee include Leonard Breton, Associate Director of Student Development and R.I.S.E. Mentorship as well as Monique Jernigan, Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs.

"After several months of honest and heartfelt discussions with our student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators, now is the time to take action and establish a structure to help ensure an anti-racist environment within our department and University community," said Director of Athletics Mike Cragg.

"We all have work to do to educate ourselves, continue listening to others and most importantly take action. Thus, I am excited to launch the Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice and grateful for this group of individuals who are committed to leading us in creating new platforms for lifting people of color and seeking social justice."
"The formation of this new Council signals the Department of Athletics' long term commitment to support the University's anti-racism efforts," said Nada Llewellyn, Esq., St. John's Chief Diversity Officer, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, and Deputy General Counsel.
St. John's Athletics CCCSJ will lead the charge in a shared commitment to develop an anti-racist environment within the department and across the campus community. The council's four-pillar strategy includes:

  1. An assessment of the department's culture and practices.
  2. Year-long educational programming for student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff.
  3. Maintaining an overarching focus with regard to best practices related to diversity and inclusion.
  4. Utilizing Red Storm Athletics platforms to gain greater awareness while also promoting positive social change.

"It's a tremendous honor to help establish the Athletics Council on Community, Culture and Social Justice," said Rienecker. "As an employee in higher education, I feel that we all have the opportunity to be educators. Whether we are coaches, administrators or staff, every day we can make an impact in the lives of our student-athletes. This is a great opportunity to use the platform of college athletics to make positive social change."
Earlier on Tuesday, the St. John's Athletics CCCSJ launched its first department-wide discussion by hosting human rights activist and racial equality advocate Richard Lapchick for a virtual seminar on "The Power of Sports and the Compelling Need for Diversity and Inclusion." Lapchick currently serves as the Chair of the DeVos Sports Business Management Program at The University of Central Florida and is the son of legendary St. John's basketball coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick. In addition to his role at UCF, Lapchick serves as the Director of The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), which was launched by the DeVos Program in 2002 under his leadership. He has received nine honorary degrees and has been celebrated for his work by numerous national organizations. Among the notable recognitions, Lapchick was named the NCAA's Champion on Diversity in 2017.