Orlando Sentinel columnist George Diaz profiled NASCAR’s long relationship with Lapchick in Monday’s edition.
Lapchick leads UCF’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which has conducted more diversity training with NASCAR than any other sports organization. At one point, Diaz wrote, NASCAR had provided diversity training to every employee for five consecutive years.
Lapchick’s training with driver Jeremy Clements is being conducted through the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, a consortium of colleges, universities, organizations and individuals that Lapchick established in 1985 to raise awareness of racism in sport and to improve college graduation rates among athletes. The consortium is based at UCF.
“‘My goal is to make NASCAR look like America,’ (Brian) France told Lapchick when they met,” the Sentinel reported. “It was a perfect fit: France was in line to take over the reins of NASCAR from his father, Bill France Jr. Lapchick was the nation’s leading voice on diversity in sports.”
Lapchick will be meeting with the suspended driver, who “used the n-word in a casual conversation with an MTV blogger,” Diaz wrote.
“NASCAR adopted a zero-tolerance policy,” Lapchick told the Sentinel. “What he said was inappropriate and wrong but you have to have that chance for redemption. I’m a strong believer in that.”
“It will be an open and frank discussion,” he added. “We don’t try to be accusatory. We try to open up a person to seeing things differently.”
Lapchick has been described as “the social conscience of sport” and is the only person named as “One of the 100 Most Powerful People in Sport” to head up a sport management program. He also is president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sport and helped bring the organization’s national office to UCF.
In September, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recognized Lapchick as one of three recipients of the Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. The award is presented to individuals who strive to improve the community they serve, make an ongoing commitment to others, and reflect Jackson’s mission to overcome obstacles while seeking the highest standard of excellence.