UNCW Program Supporting African American Student-Athletes Presented at National Conference

Friday, June 07, 2019

A UNCW Athletics program designed to enhance the matriculation of African American male student-athletes was one of 15 athlete-focused presentations accepted for the 2019 National Conference for Race and Ethnicity.
This year, NCORE collaborated with the NCAA to call for presentations that focus on the intersection of race and athletics. UNCW’s B.E.A.S.T. program, which stands for Black Excellence Achieving Success Together, was among those selected.
The goal of the initiative is to provide support and a sense of community as African American male student-athletes navigate attending a predominantly white institution. Drew Scales, associate athletic director for student-athlete support services, implemented the program three years ago. Scales and UNCW Chief Diversity Officer Kent Guion presented the program during the annual conference held May 28-June 1 in Portland, and provided guidelines for other professionals to implement similar programs at their campuses.
“The program’s selection for the NCORE validates that the B.E.A.S.T. initiative is innovative and a useful idea for other institutions,” said Scales. “I was grateful our presentation was accepted and for the opportunity to contribute perspectives to broaden awareness of ethnicity in higher education.”
Participation in the program is voluntary, and invited guests and mentors often attend sessions to discuss issues like masculinity and identity. Scales plans to explore how the program influences graduation and retention rates.
“Student-athletes can experience extreme isolation because of the unique demand of balancing athletics and academic schedules, which often keeps them from being involved in many aspects of college life,” said Guion. “The program is an attempt to address this concern and hopefully create a replicable model for other campuses. Sharing our story with our peers was a special honor.”
Building a more inclusive and welcoming campus is a priority outlined in the university’s Strategic Plan.

- Venita Jenkins