Is your athletic department required by the NCAA to do a DEI review?
It depends. If your school participates at the Division II or III level, the NCAA encourages but does not mandate, that you do so. However, for those participating at the Division I level, by November 3, 2023, it is mandated that you must perform a DEI review and provide written confirmation of completion to the national office. See NCAA Division I Bylaw 184.108.40.206. Take note, this is not a one-time-only process. After the initial review, schools are required to complete a review at least once every four years.
This naturally begs the question of what, specifically, a DEI review must include. Though the NCAA does not require a specific format, it published an optional resource – the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Review Framework – for schools to conduct their review. It shares a “suggested structure and questions to ask in a thorough, collaborative and proactive diversity, equity and inclusion review process.”
Beyond the Framework itself, the NCAA also stated that a gender equity/Title IX review should be included in any DEI review. It listed a recently released OCR resource focused on equity in college sports as something to help schools comply with the gender equity/Title IX piece of the DEI review requirement. Remember, these reviews are no small undertaking and the results often have implications that go well-beyond NCAA Bylaws.
To the extent the NCAA didn’t make clear that it wanted schools to prioritize the DEI review process, the failure to do so will result in fines for Division I members. Specifically, if a school fails to complete the DEI review by the November 3, 2023 deadline, it will be fined $500 plus an additional $500 if it is not completed within two additional months. And while that may not be a considerable sum, if a school remains out of compliance by January 3, 2023, it will be placed in restricted membership status. See NCAA Division I Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Attestation Frequently Asked Questions.
It bears noting that the NCAA’s requirement may conflict with certain state laws, so talk with your general counsel about how to approach this compliance standard on your campus.