Kansas Athletics and Athletics Director Jeff Long are committed to reform and education in the athletic department, Long said in a video panel Tuesday night.
Long joined a video panel Tuesday night via Zoom and livestreamed via YouTube alongside Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk, moderated by former USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg. The live presentation was hosted by the Kansas City Public Library.
The original purpose of the panel was dedicated to discussing the planned resumption of the Kansas vs. Missouri rivalry in football, with a panel in August. Instead, the panel was moved up to June and covered how college sports programs will adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent social justice movements across the United States.
The conversation started with how Sterk and Long felt about student athletes using their voices and platforms on social media. Following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, people began voicing their concerns and experiences with racism on Twitter and Instagram.
A vocal group taking to social media includes student athletes speaking out to reform injustices within their own programs.
I will not stand for this.. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE. https://t.co/psxPn4Khoq— Chuba Hubbard (@Hubbard_RMN) June 15, 2020
Long expressed that he does not support the idea of banning student athletes from utilizing social media. Instead, he sees social media as another platform to teach student athletes and others.
“I think social media is part of the educational process that we have, we should educate our young people on how to use social media,” Long said. “For me, this is all education-based and we need to use it to educate our people.”
Long indicated that he’s happy with the strides that are being taken on social media from student athletes.
“They’re finding their voice and they’re beginning to use it,” Long said. "I think our young people are more sophisticated today and they’re going to want to speak out. And we shouldn’t try to quell that, in my opinion.”
Long was then asked how he felt about the recent empowerment of student athletes and whether or not there’s been improvements inside of institutions.
“First of all, I don’t think, candidly, our society has come very far in five years,” Long said. “I think in intercollegiate athletics, much like a lot of our society, we respond to the crisis, we get energized, we take some steps but then things fade away."
“My commitment is that we need to set a framework that lasts," he continued.
Long admitted there is a “long way to go," but he assured that he and Kansas Athletics are committed to making a sizable and substantial difference.
Long added that Kansas Athletics “will seek to have a closer relationship with our local law enforcement," and continue to fall back on educating all parties involved.
“I don’t personally know of [issues in local law enforcement]," Long said. “But we’d be naive if we didn’t think there were issues within any one of those law enforcement agencies. We know that the vast majority of those officers are doing things the right way."
"And again, we want to work more closely with them to educate and make sure they understand us and what we’re expecting when they assist us,” Long continued. “We are an educational institution and we need to lead with education."