Big 12 Black assistant coaches form alliance focused on education, support

In the days and weeks after George Floyd's death, Daniyal Robinson, an assistant for Iowa State men's basketball, said he thought about ways to make an impact among the athletes within his league. That led to conversations with other Black assistants in the conference and the formation of the Big 12 Black Assistant Coaches Alliance (BACA), announced Tuesday, and a platform with four initiatives: educate, unify, serve and support.

"We want to be an alliance and not necessarily a coalition," said Robinson, the chairman of the group. "Our main goal was to help serve our student-athletes better. Our student-athletes are hurting."

The official social media accounts from the schools in the league and the league itself tweeted the same announcement in unison to signify the arrival of the group, which currently features 40 men's and women's basketball assistants from the league and intends to link up with coaches in other sports, including football, in the coming months.

The group hopes to push voter registration, financial literacy, leadership skills and a partnership with police, Robinson said.

He added that every men's and women's basketball player in the conference is registered to vote. He also said he hopes a partnership with police -- each program intends to connect with its local department -- will help eliminate stereotypes and facilitate a relationship.

"I have insurance, and my plates are valid," Robinson said. "But when I pass a state trooper while riding with my sons, I get a funny feeling in my chest. I don't want to pass that on to my boys. The best way to do that is to engage in the conversation."

Leah Foster, the player development coordinator for TCU women's basketball, said she has received positive feedback from the players she coaches.

At TCU, players have been vocal about Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who was killed by a Fort Worth, Texas, police officer last year while she was babysitting her nephew in her home. Aaron Dean, the officer involved, was indicted on a murder charge.

Foster said her athletes have conveyed that they've felt supported by the initiative.

"Being a Black female and being a Black, female coach, it's important that our Black, female student-athletes -- and males -- have positive role models and people they see who look like them," she said.

Robinson said the group intends to become a resource for all coaches and student-athletes. The Big 12's support, which he sought through official channels, signals a long-term commitment to the cause by league officials, he said. Robinson pitched the idea on a video call with every athletic director in the conference.

"It was overwhelmingly supportive because of the engagement of our student-athletes," he said.

Foster said the group hopes to help athletes attain skills and experiences that will help them after they leave school.

"We want to give them things that they can use throughout their lives," she said. "Not just the next four years."