Dr. Jason James, an assistant professor in the College of Business, has been named Wilmington University’s Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee.
In the role, which was approved by Divisions I, II, and III at the NCAA Convention in January 2020, he will serve as a gatekeeper of information related to diversity and inclusion, a core value of the Association. According to the NCAA, the position was created partially in response to feedback from athletics administrators who reported that “sometimes information gets bottlenecked and doesn’t arrive to key recipients.”
Dr. James assumed the post in June, and began working with Director of Athletics Dr. Stefanie Whitby and Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Matt Wilson. “Our first big initiative was to socialize me with the athletic coaches, the team leaders and captains, and the teams as a whole,” he says. “From there, we conducted individual interviews with all the coaches about race and justice as it relates to sports.” They then utilized the coaches’ input as the basis for focus groups with student-athletes.
“One thing we learned is that Wilmington Athletics really does foster a spirit of family,” says Dr. James. “That comes from the coaches, the student- athletes, and from the environment that the Athletics administration fosters.”
He credits his partnership with Dr. Whitby and Dr. Wilson with facilitating his transition into the new role.
Dr. James plays tennis, but his real connection to sports is through baseball. He is an avid fan, and has visited several Major League ballparks as well as the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. His great-great uncle, Frank Fountain, managed a Negro League semi-pro team in Milford, Delaware, during World War II, and his younger brother played Division I baseball.
He says he is honored to have been chosen as the University’s Diversity and Inclusion designee. “Through this role I’ve gotten a deeper appreciation and understanding of how sports fits into the larger college scene,” he says. “Student-athletes are a very special group, and to hear their passion about what they do, it magnifies how important it is to pay attention to them.”