Black Coaches United Advocates for Colleges to Set Up Campus Voting Stations

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

FILE - In this March 7, 2020, file photo, Florida State's head coach Leonard Hamilton celebrates with his team after their first ever ACC championship after an NCAA college basketball game against Boston College in Tallahassee, Fla. Hamilton was selected Associated Press Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File)
Steve Cannon/Associated Press

Black Coaches United, a coalition of college men's and women's basketball coaches, has called on universities to make their arenas and stadiums polling locations for the Nov. 3 election.

The group released a statement to Myron Medcalf of ESPN:

"We are encouraging colleges and universities, especially those in America's urban centers, to set up polling stations on their campuses. In July, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks offered the use of the State Farm Arena as a polling place following the debacle that took place during the June 9 primary election in Georgia. Many of us witnessed the long lines of would-be voters standing in a parking lot for hours waiting to exercise their right to vote. In the city of Atlanta, the number of polling stations have been reduced each year since 2014. The closing of polling stations across the country have consistently taken place in poor communities and communities of color. The long lines of voters waiting to exercise their right to vote should be alarming to all Americans that cherish democracy.

"Volunteering your arenas or student unions as a place to exercise the right to vote would be an act that affirms the statements many of you made to end systemic inequalities following the death of George Floyd."

The Atlanta Hawks are one of several professional sports franchises that have offered their arena as a polling location in an effort to increase voter turnout. The Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings are among the additional teams to make their arenas available.

Black Coaches United includes High Point's Tubby Smith, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, Johnny Dawkins, Frank Haith, LSU women's basketball assistant Charlene Thomas-Swinson and Delaware women's coach Natasha Adair.

Black Coaches United is also asking Congress to pass The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, which was already passed by a Democrat-led House of Representatives in December.  The bill would renew and expand the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to increase voter access in minority communities. 

"One of the issues [the bill] addresses is the reduction of polling stations in the neighborhoods of the citizens that have suffered from years of systemic inequalities," Black Coaches United said in its statement. "Mr. Lewis' life was devoted to ending the disenfranchisement of American citizens. He shed his blood on the Edmund Pettus bridge as part of this ongoing fight."