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“The racial divide in college sports can be seen on many levels – from graduation rates to minority hiring,” said Earl Smith, a professor of sociology at Wake Forest and one of the individuals responsible for organizing “Losing to Win: Discussions of Race and Intercollegiate Sports,” the third major interdisciplinary conference held since 2009 at Wake Forest.

“This conference brings together an unprecedented team of experts to examine the racial implications of all of the most important topics pertaining to college sports,” said Smith.

The conference, scheduled for April 13 and 14 in the Benson University Center, will feature prominent academics, athletic administrators, sports journalists, former student athletes, professional athletes and other professionals who have developed an expertise in the racial implications of college sports.

Student-athletes, and those who help guide their decisions, can follow and participate in the conversation. Live updates and video interviews with key speakers will be available on the Losing to Win blog, with additional content available on Facebook and Twitter (@losingtowinblog; #losingtowin) once the conference begins.

“Low graduation rates among certain student athletes, the lack of pay for college players, and improprieties in the recruiting process are just some of the hot button issues making headlines this year,” said Timothy Davis, one of the country’s best known law scholars and the John W. & Ruth H. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest. Davis, another conference organizer, urges student-athletes, their parents and athletic administrators to consider these facts:

  • Winners and Losers: A new report shows that while 2010 NCAA basketball tournament teams graduated 84 percent of their white male athletes, only 56 percent of black male athletes earned their college degree. Yet black athletes make up the majority of Division I collegiate basketball players.
  • No Pay for Play: The NCAA recently inked a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast the NCAA men’s tournament games, and top coaches regularly take home paychecks that number in the millions. Yet many student athletes, and especially those of color, often struggle to make ends meet as their benefits are largely restricted to the value of their scholarships.
  • Unfair Advantage: The case of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton once again put the spotlight on improper recruiting practices for college athletes. Now experts are calling into question practices used to induce athletes in general.

“We believe this is a vitally important conversation that needs to be held if we are to see changes in current practices that harm our student athletes and their institutions,” said Davis. “We plan to continue the dialogue long after the conference ends so that we will hopefully move closer to enacting reforms.”

For a full schedule and information on participants, visit

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