On Thursday, nine Georgia Tech teams, including football, men and women's basketball, announced they will have a mandatory day off on November 3, 2020 to encourage and allow student-athletes to vote during the presidential election.
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.
Georgia Tech will demonstrate the importance of voting and the keeping the conversation alive of the ongoing social issues. Other coaches from the America East Conference have also pledged to take Election Day off.
Full Statement Below from Georgia Tech PR:
THE FLATS – Nine Georgia Tech teams that are scheduled to be involved in in-season activities on Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 – have committed to not hold mandatory athletic activities on that day to encourage student-athletes and staff members to exercise their right to vote.
The nine teams that have pledged to not hold mandatory athletic activities include men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football, volleyball, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s indoor track and field and women’s indoor track and field. Additionally, Georgia Tech women’s swimming and diving has a competition scheduled for that date, but is actively working with its opponent to reschedule the event.
“I am very proud of our student-athletes and coaches for identifying a great way that they can take action to make a difference in our communities and society,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “As part of our mission of developing young people in all aspects of their lives, I feel that it is our responsibility to provide student-athletes with an environment that promotes civic duty. Through our Total Person Program, we will educate student-athletes on how to register to vote and provide them with resources that will allow them to gain a greater understanding of the issues before they fill out their ballots. I applaud everyone that is a part of this initiative.”
Women’s basketball head coach Nell Fortner and men’s basketball head coach Josh Pastner led the initiative to refrain from mandatory athletic activities on Election Day following discussions with their student-athletes on ways their teams can make a difference in the community and society. Men’s basketball associate head coach Eric Reveno has drawn praise for his efforts to promote Election Day as an off day for student-athletes nationwide.
Other Georgia Tech teams and head coaches quickly joined the movement. For many teams, the off day will come during the heart of preparation for upcoming competitions. Notably, Georgia Tech football hosts Duke on Saturday, Nov. 7, volleyball faces Miami (Fla.) and Florida State that same weekend and swimming and diving has two meets scheduled for that week.
STATEMENTS FROM GEORGIA TECH DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS AND HEAD COACHES
“This is a time to come together and educate ourselves, learn and vote. I am proud of the American people for coming together and voicing what we believe is right. We need to do better as a nation, and voting is one of the most powerful ways for our voices to be heard. I am all for our team being able to have the opportunity to make a difference on November 3."
- Volleyball head coach Michelle Collier
“In light of recent events, our team has had very real and meaningful conversations about how we can make a difference in our communities and in our nation. One of those ways is to take a day that we would normally dedicate to preparing for our upcoming game and, instead, taking Tuesday, November 3 off to ensure that our student-athletes and staff have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. My hope is that this will encourage our entire organization to participate in the most important part of citizenship in our democracy.”
- Football head coach Geoff Collins
“As a track and field staff, we are fully supportive of the initiative to make sure our student-athletes have an opportunity to vote and have their voices heard on November 3. The opportunity to vote your conscience is one of our fundamental rights as citizens. While there are many ways to have an impact, very likely none are more important that at the ballot box.”
- Women’s track and field head coach Alan Drosky
“I lead a group of strong, young women, student-athletes from all backgrounds and nationalities. My passion is to teach, encourage and support each one of them. To my African-American players and staff, I stand behind you and beside you as our nation continues to find its way for total equality for African-American people. On November 3, 2020, all of our voices can be heard and I will encourage my student-athletes to be heard!”
- Women’s basketball head coach Nell Fortner
"We will pledge to give our team – student-athletes and coaches – the day off on November 3, 2020, so they have the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to go vote, and let their voices be heard. I will be voting on November 3 and encourage everyone to go vote."
- Women’s tennis head coach Rodney Harmon
“I’m thrilled to be able to join with our coaches at Georgia Tech and pledge to give our swimmers and divers Election Day off to go vote. Voting is still our most valued responsibility, and we as coaches can easily emphasize the importance of our student-athletes’ voices by supporting their right to vote and encouraging them to be heard.”
- Swimming and diving head coach Courtney Shealy Hart
“The events of the past week have given us all an opportunity to educate ourselves about social issues that face us, the way we treat each other as human beings and what we can and should do to back up our words. All of us must exercise our right to vote. It may seem like a small thing while all this is going on around us, but it is so important to do on all levels, and a basic part of being a good citizen. Creating a day off from athletic activities is a great way to encourage our student-athletes to exercise that right.”
- Men’s basketball head coach Josh Pastner
“We support having a day off from athletic activities on Election Day this year. Whether it be by voting on Election Day, voting early or filling out an absentee ballot since some of our student-athletes are from other states, we will encourage our team members to fulfill their civic duty and make their voices heard as part of the voting process. Our goal is to encourage them in their roles as athletes, scholars and responsible citizens.”
- Men’s tennis head coach Kenny Thorne
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