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Big 12 Hosts Sixth State Of College Athletics Forum
April 19, 2017

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The Big 12 Conference has announced the lineup for its sixth State of College Athletics Forum. To be held Wednesday, April 19, 4 p.m. ET, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Ga., this Forum will focus on the topic of Race and College Athletics.

“Since our first Forum in 2015, our goal has been to engage in meaningful dialogue on the issues surrounding intercollegiate athletics,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Discussing race within the context of college sports resonates beyond campus. Many of the matters around race that I anticipate will be discussed at this Forum are a microcosm of race-related issues in society at-large.”

Emceed by SEC Network studio analyst Tony Barnhart, the Forum will be streamed live on ESPN3, on The Undefeated, and through WatchESPN and the ESPN App.

“We are proud to present the Big 12 Forum on Race & College Athletics on our digital platforms,” said Kevin Merida, Editor in Chief for The Undefeated. “Having ESPN personalities Mark May and The Undefeated’s William C. Rhoden participate in this discussion, along with the other notable panelists, will certainly provide for an engaging and thorough examination of the topic.”

The Forum’s featured panel will include:

• Bob Bowlsby – Commissioner, Big 12 Conference
• Tony Barnhart – Studio Analyst, SEC Network
• Bernard Franklin – Chief Inclusion Officer, NCAA
• Dr. Richard Lapchick – Director, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports
• Shane Lyons – Director of Athletics and Associate Vice President, West Virginia University
• Mark May – Football Analyst, ESPN
• William C. Rhoden – Columnist and Editor-at-Large, ESPN’s The Undefeated


Bob Bowlsby is the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, and host of this Forum. Bowlsby has chaired several NCAA committees and served on the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors. He is the former athletics director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa, and was a college wrestler.

Tony Barnhart, AKA Mr. College Football, is in his 39th year as a reporter for newspapers, television and radio. He spent 24 years as the national college football writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and eight years as an analyst for CBS Sports. He currently serves as a studio analyst at the SEC Network. He has also written five books on college football.

Bernard Franklin serves as the executive vice president of education and community engagement/chief inclusion officer for the NCAA. He is responsible for assuring the development of policies and procedures that support the effective functioning of the leadership development and inclusion groups. He previously served as president of Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va.; Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C.; and Saint Augustine College in Raleigh, N.C.

Dr. Richard Lapchick is an eminent scholar, endowed chair and director of the DeVoss Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. As director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, he oversees the institute Racial and Gender Report Card, an annual publishing of the racial and gender hiring practices in sports.

Shane Lyons was named director of athletics and associate vice president at West Virginia University in January 2015. Lyons came to West Virginia University after spending three years as the deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer at The University of Alabama. A former basketball player, he also spent 10 years as an associate commissioner at the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Mark May, a 2005 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, serves as an ESPN college football analyst and studio show host. His television broadcast career began in 1995, following a 13-year NFL career. A first-round selection, and 20th overall pick, of the Washington Redskins in the 1981 NFL Draft, May was a part of two Super Bowl championship teams.

Longtime New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden joined The Undefeated in February 2017 as a columnist and editor-at-large for ESPN multi-platform content initiative. Rhoden is considered one of the most respected journalists of his generation. His career spans nearly four decades, and his opinions as a social commentator has been among the most sought-after in the genre of sports and race.

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