Basketball practice

Athletics Department Initiatives

Statement from the North Central Athletics Department

July 1, 2020

To the North Central College Athletics Community:

Over the past few weeks, and in response to events around the nation and within our own community, we in the North Central College Athletics Department have been examining our behaviors, operations, and actions as they pertain to how we serve our Black student-athletes. We have also taken stock of ourselves personally and acknowledge that we have fallen short in providing the kind of student athlete experience that everyone in a Cardinal uniform should be able to expect.

Our Black student-athletes highlighted the fundamental truths of racism and racial inequities in our country, and we made them feel unsupported and isolated. Additionally, the feedback we received on social media, emails and other communication further informed us that we were complacent about the climate experienced by our Black student-athletes. Each of us in the Athletics Department is truly sorry. Our Black student-athletes deserved much better from us, and we now have a distinct responsibility to do the work required to create authentic change.

I had the important opportunity to address the College community as one of several panelists during our recent Town Hall. I briefly touched on the initiatives below, and wanted to be sure you received this message outlining our plan as an Athletics Department. Along with Jim Miller, Athletic Director, Sue Kane, Associate Athletic Director and James Kluckhohn, Assistant Athletic Director, we have been putting together a plan that we believe, along with your ideas, thoughts and encouragement, will help us create a better North Central College athletics program.

As part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, here are the action steps we will be taking in the Athletics Department. These action steps are the beginning of changes that will occur within the department, and additional changes will come based on feedback from the athletics community, the Athletics Diversity Council (ADC), the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, and other groups.

  1. We have created an Athletics Diversity Council (see below), consisting of students, coaches, staff, alumni, and faculty, that will help provide guidance and perspective along with establishing goals and benchmarks to mark our collective progress. Additionally, the Athletics Diversity Council will work closely with the College's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. 
  2. The ADC, in conjunction with the DEI Task Force and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, will help plan and host forums on racism in society and athletics to provide a deeper understanding of Black history and experiences in our culture, and to engage student-athletes, coaches, and administrators in meaningful dialogue. The Athletics Department and I welcome the opportunity to host these forums. We will announce a schedule for the fall semester no later than fall semester in September.
  3. We are making a commitment to further diversifying our staff to include more Black coaches, assistant coaches and other athletics staff. In doing so, we will seek guidance from the ADC and the DEI Task Force to identify and change systemic barriers in our recruitment and hiring practices, and we will train our search committees on preventing implicit bias in the hiring process.
  4. Our Athletics Department, including student-athletes, coaches, staff, and administrators, will participate in extensive anti-racism and allyship training. We are committed to this training as a department, and will share more details later this summer.
  5. Please look for our new "Be the Change" social-media campaign this fall, which aims to give our student-athletes, as well as coaches, administrators, staff members, and teams, the opportunity to share their own commitment to being anti-racist.

 We encourage you to use the feedback form on this site where you are invited to share your thoughts. The information collected here will help inform specific actions we will take toward making the Athletics Department more inclusive. You are welcome to fill out the form multiple times. We will also add our initiatives to the athletics website, where we will continue to track our progress.

This is an important time of change and please know the Athletics Department is committed to investing the energy, diligence, and resources necessary to better serve and support our Black student-athletes, and to evolving as individuals and leaders within our North Central Community.


Thank you.

-Martin Sauer, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Athletics


Athletics Diversity Council

Consistent with North Central College's core values, and guided by the inclusion statement of the NCAA, the Department of Athletics at North Central College is committed to creating a culture that embraces diverse ideas, experiences, and backgrounds for all of its coaches, administrators, and, above all, student-athletes. The department is proud to announce the formation of its Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to provide guidance and support in this effort. 

Athletics provides a distinct opportunity to unite diverse groups around a common goal. It is our responsibility to use our broad platform to model the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our mission is to build and sustain a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment that reflects our commitment to see, hear, and support all of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators, specifically those marginalized in society because of race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disabilities.

We expect every member of our North Central College athletic family – students, coaches, mentors, parents, fans, and alumni - to embrace these underlying values. Our Athletics Diversity Council is charged with ensuring we live up to and continue to expand upon these standards. The council will provide structure for us to grow as a community: to embrace similarities and differences, listen and be open to multiple perspectives and thoughts, and engage in meaningful action to recruit and retain diverse community members. 


The following individuals have graciously committed to serve as members of the Athletics Diversity Council:

Administration, Alumni, Coaches and Faculty

  • Dr. Chetan Chawla, assistant professor of entrepreneurship 
  • Dr. Suzanne Chod, associate professor of political science; coordinator of gender and sexuality studies
  • Dr. Rebecca Gordon, assistant vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion; Title IX coordinator; coordinator of disability support services
  • Sue Kane '02/M '19, associate athletic director; senior woman administrator
  • Kari Kluckhohn, head women's track and field coach
  • Emonte Logan '18/M '20
  • Brittany Marshall M '21, graduate assistant women's wrestling coach
  • Dr. Marco Martinez, associate professor of mathematics and actuarial science; coordinator of actuarial science
  • Jim Miller '86, athletic director
  • Maurice Mitchell '20
  • Mahesh Narayanan '97/M '05, head women's cross country coach; assistant women's track and field coach
  • Dr. Alicia Okpareke, associate professor of education; education assessment coordinator
  • Lisa Pettaway '94/M '00, North Central College Annual Fund director
  • Ebony Stallworth '15
  • Clark Teuscher, sports information director

Current Student-Athletes

  • Sharmore Clarke '21, football
  • Amanda Martinez '21, women's wrestling/softball
  • Blaise Meredith '21, men's basketball
  • Sydney Sawyer '21, women's tennis
  • Mitrese Smith '22, women's volleyball/basketball
  • Jarod Thornton '23, football
  • Bry'Shawna Walker '22, women's lacrosse

Athletics Diversity Council Subcommittees

(faculty/staff leads noted with *)

Be the Change Campaign/Athletics Website

Charge: Provide platform to our student-athletes, as well as coaches, administrators, staff members and teams, the opportunity to share their own commitment to being anti-racist.

Membership: Clark Teuscher*, Mahesh Narayanan, Amanda Martinez, Moe Mitchell

Antiracism and Allyship Training/transition to LGBTQ+ training efforts spring 2021

Charge: Develop and implement extensive anti-racism and allyship training.

Membership: Rebecca Gordon*, Alicia Okpareke, Sharmore Clarke, Dakotah Poitra

Diversity of Athletics Staff

Charge: Diversifying our staff to include more Black coaches, assistant coaches and other athletics staff. In doing so, we will seek guidance from the ADC and the DEI Task Force to identify and change systemic barriers in our recruitment and hiring practices, and we will train our search committees on preventing implicit bias in the hiring process.

Membership: Jim Miller*, Megan Gossett, Marco Martinez, Blaise Meredith

Forums on Racism in Society and Athletics

Charge: In conjunction with the DEI Task Force and Office of Multicultural Affairs, will help plan and host forums on racism in society and athletics to provide a deeper understanding of Black history and experiences in our culture, and to engage student-athletes, coaches and admiinistrators in meaningful dialogue.

Membership: Suzanne Chod*, Chetan Chawla, Bry Walker, Jarod Thornton

Student-Athlete of Color Alumni Mentor Program

Charge: Develop and implement student-athlete of color alumni mentor program.

Membership: Kari Kluckhohn*, Lisa Pettaway, Emonte Logan, Ebony Stallworth

Women's Athletics

Charge: Raise the profile of and recognition for women's athletic programs and the accomplishments and contributions of women's teams and student-athletes.

Membership: Sue Kane*, Brittany Marshall, Dakotah Poitra, Mitrese Smith, Sydney Sawyer

We understand that this is a time of learning and growing for our department. We are committed to this being a movement – not a moment. We need to listen to each other and figure out the best path forward, together. 

We are thankful to each of our council members for their willingness to help guide us in this important work and look forward to sharing updates on our progress.


Football field

Be the Change

A new social media campaign is giving student-athletes, coaches and staff a platform to share their stories. And not just stories of hard work and competition, but personal perspectives on how racism, hatred and/or bigotry have impacted their lives. 

The social media campaign, Be the Change, was developed by the North Central College athletic department to create greater empathy and understanding throughout the College community and increase awareness of discriminatory behaviors.

“Be the Change has the capacity to become a valuable tool in the College's efforts to affect permanent cultural change in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said athletic director Jim Miller ’86. “Athletics has long been an umbrella under which people from many different backgrounds gather in pursuit of a common goal. Now our goal is to use the sharing of these experiences to further unify us and draw attention to the ways we can continue to do better.”

Be the Change is produced by the sports information department in association with the College's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and the Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. The content covers different topics each week and consists of informational graphics and video testimonials from student-athletes, coaches and/or staff.

Assistant Sports Information Director Andrew Sauer ’11/M ’14 oversees production, with help from sports information student-assistants Liz Wagner ’22 and Bry’Shawna Walker ’22. They’ve been instrumental in developing the concept and are contributing to direction and messaging.

“It has been inspiring to see people get behind this,” said Sports Information Director Clark Teuscher. “We’ve been blessed with student-athletes, coaches and staff members who have shown great courage in talking about real-life issues. And our team has embraced this moment as an opportunity to make a positive impact on the campus community and beyond.”

Anti-Racism and Allyship for Athletes and Coaches

The following content is presented here in addition to appearing on the North Central College Athletics website and on the Changing Campus Culture page, with this information being specific to student athletes and coaches. It is being maintained by the North Central College Department of Athletics in close collaboration with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and will be continually updated on both websites, as part of the ongoing work committed to by the Department of Athletics and the Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

2018-19 Academic Year Diversity and Inclusion Training Highlights

  • All student-athletes received a mandatory 90-minute diversity and inclusion training in which each team established inclusive team norms facilitated by Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Jessica Vasquez, Peer Health Education Coordinator and Campus Advocate.
  • Dr. Kathy Obear (The center for transformation and change) and Dr. Tanya O. Williams, Ed.D. (Authentic Consulting) co-facilitated a day-long diversity and inclusion training for coaches and Athletics Department administrative staff.
  • The women’s lacrosse team participated in a facilitated discussion about the climate on the team.
  • The women’s lacrosse team and lacrosse coaching staff participated in a six-hour experiential training on diversity and inclusion facilitated by Tanya O. Williams.

2020-21 Academic Year Diversity and Inclusion Activity Highlights

A number of student athletes in a variety of athletic programs participated in, and/or organized, initiatives surrounding racial injustice. Student athletes participated in/organized marches and protests in their communities, and coaches facilitated discussions with their respective teams. Those activities are summarized below.

  • Women’s Basketball

    • Women’s basketball has held monthly initiatives since the beginning of summer, sharing articles and holding Zoom discussions on different topics regarding racism.  The coaching staff has challenged their student-athletes to register to vote and are canceling all athletic related activities on November 3, 2020 to allow student-athletes to vote and volunteer at polling stations. The team also had Black Lives Matter shirts made and are selling them with all proceeds being donated to the North Central Black Student Association. Additionally, Mitrese Smith, a current student athlete, organized a protest in her hometown that saw a turnout of over 500 people and was attended by Coach Bax, Brittany James and Allison Pearson.

  • Women’s track & field team

    • The women’s track & field team organized a Run-a-Thon with all proceeds to be donated to the Black Student Association to help them continue their important efforts on our campus, and the Chicago-based organization called My Block, My Hood, My City to support their mission of providing resources and assistance to underprivileged youth, and Black owned business around the city. This was a completely student organized event, led by Joli Lavieri, and the men’s track & field team was also invited to participate in the event. To date they have raised over $3,700 and are still accepting donations.

  • Men’s and Women’s tennis teams

    • The men’s and women’s tennis teams have been scheduling Zoom meetings discussing racial injustice and how they can instill positive changes into society.  Members of both teams have also been participating in protests and rallies in their hometowns.

  • Football team

    • Hosted six virtual discussions about social injustice. Videos, print materials (e.g. Letter from a Birmingham Jail), and guest speakers were used to frame and facilitate these discussions.

  • Softball team members

    • Softball team members requested a facilitated discussion by the Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Multicultural Affairs about diversity and inclusion.

  • Student athletes, coaches and administrative staff will receive immersive training on diversity and inclusion during fall 2020.

  • Coaches and athletics administrative staff will receive an NCAA training on LGBTIA+ issues in athletics.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at North Central

North Central College strives to grow in diversity, equity and inclusion through the work of our faculty and staff, the openness and honesty of our students, the support of our alumni, and the continuing commitment of the entire North Central community. Share our journey with us and discover how we are working to be the change and become a true college of destination.

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