Big East men’s basketball assistant coaches come together to form Coaches For Action

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Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul men’s basketball assistant coaches Marc Hsu looks on from the bench last season.

The idea was started by four Big East men’s basketball assistant coaches. But after a couple of zoom calls and a group chat began, 17 more assistant coaches joined the new Coaches For Action coalition in June.

Inspired by the recent protests in America following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Marquette’s Dwayne Killings initiated a group text with the 21 Big East minority assistant coaches in an effort to generate interest for the new coalition. 

Killings was joined by three other assistants from the conference in an effort to bring more coaches together to come up with a plan.

Kimani (Young) from UCONN, Kyle (Neptune) from Nova and Ivan (Thomas) from Providence have all been instrumental with gaining momentum and moving the needle for our CFA coalition,” said DePaul men’s basketball assistant coach Marc Hsu, who is one of 21 coaches part of the group. 

DePaul assistant coach Tim Anderson also joins Hsu as part of the 21 assistant coaches in the group. Hsu joined the Blue Demons’ coaching staff last summer.

By June 22, the 21 assistants were able to formally launch their website and announce their goals of starting Coaches for Action. 

“One of our main goals initially was making sure we had tangible long term sustainable change,” Hsu said. “It will be up to all of us to make sure this isn’t a fad and instead we keep it relevant moving forward. Change will be hard and it will take time, potentially that change can come after my time on earth and the next generation benefits. While we have a platform and voice, our responsibility is to advocate for change.”

The group also announced three initiatives they have on the agenda in the upcoming months. One of them is to have Black Lives Matter patches on uniforms for every basketball game in the 2020-21 season. According to an ESPN story, some Big East schools have already shown their support for BLM patches on jerseys, but the conference has yet to announce anything formally.

Also on the agenda is a CFA scholarship fund, which would be awarded to a first generation minority student that holds a 3.0 GPA or higher that decides to attend one of the 11 Big East schools. And the final initiative is helping educate student-athletes, coaches and communities on the importance of voting. 

“First and foremost, change starts in your own backyard, your own community, etc,” Hsu said. “Therefore, that was one of our goals. Lets educate our own players on the importance of voting, then lets educate within our communities as well, especially within our inner city communities where change directly impacts them the most.”

The Big East itself also announced the launch of BE the Change on July 7, a conference advocacy platform that will allow Big East stakeholders to work on a wide range of racial and social justice issues in America. 

While being offered throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year, BE the Change will also include civic engagement, voter registration and Election Day 2020. 

“The Big East is committed to using our visibility to help disrupt the systems of racism, discrimination and oppression that continue to permeate American society,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said in a statement. “We believe that dialogue, however difficult, is a necessary first step as we strive to dismantle stereotypes, foster respect and develop leaders and allies who will inspire action and change in our communities and our nation.”

The conversation of voter registration and voter suppression in certain parts of the country are particularly important to Hsu. With the recent events taking place in America and an upcoming presidential election, Hsu wants to help more people register to vote and make their voices heard as well.

“It has always been important, but awareness is obviously at an all time high due to the recent tragedies,” Hsu said. “In addition, we want to discuss and educate our community on voter oppression which seems to be more and more prevalent amongst inner city communities as well.”

The Big East remains the most diverse conference in terms of men’s basketball head coaches in the country. Out of the 65 head coaches at Power Five schools, only eight are Black. But out of the 11 programs in the Big East, there are five Black head coaches, including DePaul’s Dave Leitao. 

While the Big East is one of the conferences leading the charge in trying to influence change, Hsu hopes the efforts of Coaches For Action will lead to long term change that will free the country of systematic racism and police brutality. 

“Being a minority and having experienced social injustice, racism and police brutality both indirectly and directly, it has always been a very sensitive subject,” Hsu said. “In addition, I have been blessed and fortunate enough to coach so many minorities, especially African American players which have been directly impacted; it is my duty, it is our duty to make sure all people are treated equally and free from racism.”