Often called “the racial conscience of sport,” Richard Lapchick will be honored Super Bowl weekend with the Dan Rooney Lifetime Achievement Award. Lapchick is a human rights activist, pioneer for racial equality, an internationally recognized expert on sports issues, a scholar and author.
“Embracing diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do but is also a business imperative,” says Lapchick, who has served as eminent scholar, endowed chair and director of UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management, president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, and director of The Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport since joining the university in 2001. “To be given the Dan Rooney Lifetime Achievement Award by the Fritz Pollard Alliance is a great honor.”
Dan Rooney, the former president, owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was an advocate for diversity in the hiring of NFL coaches. He established the “Rooney Rule” in 2003, at a time when only 6 percent of NFL coaches were African American. Lapchick said the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation was born in the process and became the major advocacy group for increased opportunities for coaches of color in the NFL. Each year the alliance honors an individual who has shown dedication and outstanding performance to improve the workplace in the game.
The Dan Rooney Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the awards that will be given out as part of the 15th annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards on Jan. 30 at the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
“This year’s recipients epitomize the true value of each award,” says Rod Graves, executive director of the foundation. “Their devotion to excellence has helped to transform our game and our communities.”
Since the late 1980s, Lapchick has been involved in writing the Racial and Gender Report Card on the NFL and other professional sports leagues. This report card examines how leagues handle racial and gender diversity and inclusion regarding hiring. The NFL received a “B” for racial hiring practices and a “C+” for gender hiring practices in Lapchick’s 2019 NFL Racial and Gender Report Card.
Lapchick said he will accept the award with gratitude to all of those who have supported this work along the way — first at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport In Society, and now at the Institute for Sport and Social Justice and The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, both in the DeVos Sport Business Management Program in the College of Business.