NCAA Board Encourages Schools to Give Athletes Nov. 3 Off to Vote

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJune 12, 2020

A vote here sign is seen outside a polling place during the South Carolina primary, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The NCAA is encouraging its member schools to give college athletes the day off Nov. 3 to vote in this year's general election.

In a statement Friday, the NCAA pointed to the wave of demonstrations across the world following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May and the role students are playing in forcing positive change in addressing systemic racism:

"President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors recognize the important role social engagement has on driving positive societal change. The recent demonstrations following the tragic killing of George Floyd showed the world the power of protest and student-athletes across the country were at the center of that movement. We commend NCAA student-athletes who recognized the need for change and took action though safe and peaceful protest. We encourage students to continue to make their voices heard on these important issues, engage in community activism and exercise their Constitutional rights. Further, we encourage all member schools to assist students in registering to vote in the upcoming national election and designate November 3, 2020 as a day off from athletics activity so athletes can vote and participate in their ultimate responsibility as citizens."

Several institutions across the college sports landscape have already taken that step.

On June 4, days after protests in Atlanta over police brutality became destructive, Georgia Tech announced its athletic department would not hold mandatory activities Nov. 3 to encourage staff and players to exercise their right to vote.

The University of Maine announced Wednesday it would do the same. Hofstra committed to the action a day later.

Professional sports teams have made similar decisions as well. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx named Election Day a company holiday June 5.

In a statement, Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury framed the decision as part of the school's role in developing its students:

"As part of our mission of developing young people in all aspects of their lives, I feel that it is our responsibility to provide student-athletes with an environment that promotes civic duty. Through our Total Person Program, we will educate student-athletes on how to register to vote and provide them with resources that will allow them to gain a greater understanding of the issues before they fill out their ballots. I applaud everyone that is a part of this initiative."