To McMaster’s Dean of Students: SeanVan Koughnett, the report by Dr. Ivan Joseph into allegations of Anti-Black racism in the McMaster Athletic program was “a punch in the gut.” The report by Dr. Joseph was blunt: Anti-Black racism was rampant in the department and complaints about it were either ignored or minimized. The report detailed numerous examples of race-related comments and actions by coaches and athletic administrators including:
- directly addressing Black athletes Using the “n” word
- Regarding the McMaster men’s’ basketball team: a non-Black [Marauders alum] attending an event…commented on the men’s [basketball] team: “When did the team get Black overnight? That’s not the McMaster way.”
- Racial slurs. One Black athlete reporting, ““During my second year at McMaster, in the weight room, a — coach said to me, ‘When are you going back to Africa?’ And he laughed after he said it. I reported the incident to a coach. Nothing happened. They just went on casually.”
- A coach indicating to a Black student-athlete that another player got playing time because he wasn’t “fully Black.”
- Calling campus police to clear a gym in which Black players were playing pick up basketball in a event that involved an NBA player, when the participants had asked to extend the event by 20 minutes.
- Several administrators failed to show up for meeting to discuss incidences of anti-Black racism.
- Discrimination in promoting Black athletes for professional careers. Black athletes who were denied playing time while at Mac yet went on to pro careers.
In all there were dozens of examples given of discrimination, inappropriate remarks, uneven reposes to complaints and fostering an unwelcoming climate for Black athletes.
Dr.Joseph made several recommendations including:
- Hire more Black and racialized coaches, counsellors and leaders
- Develop an anti racism policy statement and Pursue limited timeframe implementation for educating administration, coaches, staff, and student-athletes about these policies
- More supports for Black athletes including funding scholarships and bursaries for Black student-athletes
- Create a staff position to advocate for the interests and concerns of Black student-athletes
- to pursue and embrace Equity Diversity and Inclusion education and training
In an interview with Bill Kelly Wednesday, Dean Van Koughnett said the university would implement the recommendations and announced the bursary program for Black athletes was already in the works as well as the search for the Black advocacy staff position.
The Mcmaster Athletics Department averages 37 full-time and 700 student staff members, and 130 coaches (both paid and volunteers). There are also about 1,200 student-athletes. In the study there were 72 review participants. 32% (23) of the participants were current student-athletes and 38% (27) were current Athletics staff (including coaches and administrators). 23% (17) of the participants were former student-athletes (student-athlete alumni), and 7% (5) were members of the community (former staff of the Athletics Department or connected to the University in some way).
Among the participants, 69% (50) self-identified as Black or biracial with Black ancestry, of which 40 were student-athletes, current and former, and 10 were current staff including coaches. 3% of the participants were Black and racialized female-student athletes, identified by their membership on women’s teams.