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Pac-12 athletic departments announce commitment for 2020 National Voter Registration Day

Sep 2, 2020

All Pac-12 athletics departments to facilitate registration and acquisition of mail-in ballots for all willing and eligible student-athletes by Sept. 22, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO – As part of the Pac-12’s social justice & anti-racism efforts, the Conference today announced a collective commitment among all 12 member athletics programs to facilitate registration and acquisition of mail-in ballots for all willing and eligible student-athletes prior to 2020 National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22, 2020. Initially proposed by Pac-12 football and men’s basketball head coaches, the commitment was recently unanimously approved by the Pac-12 Council, which is composed of Pac-12 athletic directors, senior women administrators, faculty athletic representatives and student-athlete representatives.

“For many student-athletes, this is their first opportunity to participate in an election,” said Jimmy Lake, head coach for Washington football. “As members of our community, it is crucial that we not only educate our young men and women on the importance of voting and how to register, but to also help them understand the many dynamics of voting on the local and federal levels. Change will only happen if we take action. I encourage our younger generation to use their voice by exercising their right to vote.”

Charmin Smith, head coach for Cal women’s basketball, added: "It’s imperative that our student-athletes understand the importance of exercising their right to vote, a right that many have had to fight so hard for. I believe the youth will be responsible for the majority of the change we seek surrounding social justice and anti-racism. Their voices must be heard, and actively participating in the electoral process is a solid next step."

"While we would normally be focused on getting ready for a season, the reality is we all have a lot more time than we otherwise would and it is great to see our coaches get involved like this as we need to take full advantage of this opportunity as if we were executing a game plan," said Chase Griffin, redshirt freshman quarterback for UCLA football. "Though it is an important action, voting is just a first step in addressing many of the issues we see today. Moving forward, both players and coaches need to ask themselves internal questions. What are their values? What changes do they want to see in their communities? In the world? For many of us, this is our first election to participate in and we need to be prepared and get involved."

Anne Ryschon, senior for Stanford women’s lightweight rowing, added: "Student-athletes are part of an age demographic that has been far too under-represented at the ballot box. With this initiative we hope for Pac-12 student-athletes to lead by example by utilizing our athletics platform to encourage and inspire young adults to exercise their right to vote. By voting, we all have a seat at the table to advocate for change, better our communities and help shape our collective future." 

In July 2020, the Pac-12 announced a series of initial steps to promote social justice and combat racism, including the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group composed of a cross section of university athletics and academic leaders and student-athletes, representing all 12 universities. Today’s announcement also follows similar efforts taking place by member institutions to provide information to student-athletes on the importance of voting as well as registration information for those who are willing and eligible.

About the Pac-12 Conference

The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 54 of the last 60 years, with 529 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities - the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University. For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to Pac-12.com/conference.​