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Penn women's basketball coach Mike McLaughlin is one of the 16 Ivy League basketball coaches who committed to the Ivy Promise. Credit: Chase Sutton

In a message from all 16 men’s and women’s Ivy League basketball coaches, Steve Donahue and Mike McLaughlin committed to the Ivy Promise, formally supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

In addition to giving their nominal support to the movement, the Promise outlines five specific action items to combat racial inequalities. 

These items include being vocal advocates for equality for all, buying from local Black and minority owned businesses when possible, participating in All Vote No Play as well as state and local elections to address issues of criminal justice reform, using games to celebrate MLK Day and Black History Month, and volunteering with local organizations. 

“I've been in the league for 26 years; this is the most important venture we have initiated during this time,” Donahue said. “I feel we can be a catalyst for other leagues and other sports to follow suit. I'm proud of the leadership by all the coaches to realize how important it is for us to stand up for what is needed and what is right.”

Donahue said in addition to following the action items, he will promote on his social media information about elections, voter registration deadlines, and candidates. He will continue to listen to his current and future Black players on how to fight against racial injustice.

McLaughlin said that his team will continue to educate themselves by reflecting on documentaries and books throughout the season, as well as by inviting guest speakers.

The women’s basketball team will also “adopt” two Philadelphia elementary schools, committing to a year of service and fundraising, with the ultimate goal of building new libraries through book donations.

“We are part of a league comprised of strong leaders who share core values rooted in the genuine desire to do what is right,” McLaughlin said. “The sense of unity and the call to action is extremely powerful. I love the sense of purpose all our coaches have had during this critical period.”

The commitment to action from the Ivy coaches comes two weeks after Penn Athletics announced their plan to combat racism.

In its plan, Penn Athletics announced that it will expand implicit bias and microaggression training to its entire community, continue efforts to hire a diverse administration and coaching staff, expand civic engagement efforts, and promote the historical impact of Black Penn athletes, among other action items.

Commitments similar to the Ivy Promise have been made elsewhere in the world of college basketball, such as the Coaches for Action formed by 21 minority Big East assistants. The coalition also outlined several specific action items.

However, the Ivy Promise differs in that it was made by head coaches and does not only include minority coaches.

“This is not a one-shot deal but something that will be built into the fabric of the league going forward,” Donahue said.

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