It was announced last week that nine Georgia Tech teams, including men and women's basketball, would take a mandatory day off on November 3, 2020 to allow their players to vote on Election Day.
The decision comes in the wake of a national outrage surrounding the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a Minneapolis, Minn. police officer. Nationwide protests have occurred to fight against police brutality and racial injustice.
Malachi Rice, a senior guard on the Yellow Jackets' men's basketball team, was the first to bring idea to coach Eric Reveno and coach Josh Pastner's attention.
"We had a team meeting via Microsoft Teams, which was very inspirational and very powerful," said Tech's head basketball coach Pastner. "One of the things that came out of that meeting was Malachi Rice had mentioned to coach Eric Reveno about using November 3rd as an opportunity to vote, and kind of having a day off on that."
In years past, Election Day would be a normal day for college athletics. Teams practiced, student-athletes lifted weights and attended class. The day would be so busy, student-athletes wouldn't have the opportunity to vote.
Elsewhere, the nine basketball coaches of the America East Conference, have also pledged a mandatory day off on November 3rd. Pastner is hopeful the move, which has been slated as #NoVoteNoPlay on Twitter, can spread across other conferences as well.
"We tried to set the initiative that was led by Malachi Rice's thought," Pastner said. "Then coach Rev kind of took it to another level about trying to see if we could get Georgia Tech athletics to take the day off on November 3rd and then hopefully it spreads out, and maybe the NCAA at some point."
For Pastner, the ability to take action has been the turning wheel and inspiration for him.
"Coach Reveno has done a great job with getting that message out to everybody," said Pastner. "Meaning different coaches, different coaches in the industry and things like that, and it just took off. He deserves a ton of credit on that. I brought it to the ACC coaches the next day (last Wednesday) and they were all on board and thought that it was a great idea. Paul Brazeau was even going to bring it to the NCAA as well... and continue to move it forward."
Pastner stated another goal for the movement is that the entire ACC give all students the day off to vote.
One of the first steps going into action is making sure student-athletes are registered to vote.
"We're going to do our part in conjunction and leading by Mr. (Todd) Stansbury to make sure that all of our young men and all of our student-athletes are registered to vote," said Pastner. "Then they have the right to exercise the right to vote."
With the support of other Georgia Tech athletic coaches taking the pledge as well, the movement is able to carry heavy weight.
"Coach (Geoff) Collins, (Nell) Fortner, were obviously on board," said Pastner. "Coach Fortner is awesome, she's amazing. What an incredible human being. She was first on board on it. I want to give an amazing shout out to coach Collins. He obviously got behind the initiative to take off on November 3rd. That's not easy to do. They're playing Duke that Saturday. Taking a Tuesday off, and not practicing for a game day on Saturday, coach Collins deserves so much praise and recognition on that."
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