Elon receives grant to build meaningful mentoring opportunities for Black student-athletes

Professor of Exercise Science Eric Hall is the principal investigator on the grant, titled, “Building a meaningful mentoring program with and for Black college athletes at a predominately White institution,” and was awarded $24,665 from The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Elon University was one of four institutions selected by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for a one-year grant to demonstrate how specific interventions impact the Black athlete experience and/or Black athlete advocacy areas. The goal is to better ensure Black student-athletes are presented with ample support.

“There is a reality that student-athletes have different experiences than the regular student and at Elon. We talk so much about the ‘Elon experience’ and I think that this type of work will bridge that gap and make sure that everybody has an equitable opportunity,” said Eric Hall, professor of exercise science and faculty athletics representative at Elon.

“Student-athletes as a whole miss out on certain opportunities and there’s an assumption by some that they can’t do certain things. It seems silly that we would neglect that population. Specifically, with Black athletes on our campus, I think there are even more layers in how to be intentional on providing experiences,” he added.

Hall is the principal investigator on the “Building a meaningful mentoring program with and for Black college athletes at a predominately White institution” program that was awarded $24,665 from The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Top, from left: Eric Hall, Lauren Walker, Caroline Ketchum. Bottom, from left: Buffie Longmire-Avital, Tony Weaver.

Hall, along with his additional researchers – Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Lauren Walker, Professor of Exercise Science Caroline Ketcham, Associate Professor of Psychology Buffie Longmire-Avital and Professor of Sport Management Tony Weaver – aim to identify and recognize the mentoring needs of Black athletes and then establish a mentoring program that will provide infrastructure to support an integrated network to serve as mentors for Black athletes.

The project will provide mentorship development to effectively inform and encourage Black athletes to seek opportunities on campus that support underrepresented groups, mental health needs and career development.
In his role as faculty athletics representative, Hall has spent the past year focusing on how to increase efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. The work of Hall and his collaborators is aligned with goals within the Boldly Elon strategic plan to become a more diverse community welcoming of all.

“Elon talks about this idea of having a ‘constellation of mentors.’ With this project we are trying to identify what their constellation of mentors is and try to see if there are things that aren’t being met in those network constellations,” Hall said.

Hall said the project has two phases, and the first is to assess the Black student-athletes on campus this spring. That will include collecting as much data as possible to better understand mentoring networks on campus. The second is to implement programs based on those findings during the fall semester.

With the regular turnover of student-athletes, the goal is to build something substantial that can be continued for years after one student graduates and hundreds of others first step foot on campus.

“Everyone on the team views that the work’s not done when the grant is over in December. We will make sure that we build something that can be sustained,” Hall said.

Hall drew from his time as a student and how mentors in his life helped and provided various opportunities. Elon’s focus on being a relationship-rich institution is a pivotal part of the university’s culture, Hall and his team want to ensure that all students have excess to that richness.

“This happens on our campus already, but we need to make sure that it can happen for everybody. And if it’s not, then how can we help them empower themselves to be able to start seeking out those relationships,” Hall said.