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U. of Texas Has Unusual Ally in Lawsuit Over Race-Conscious Admissions: Basketball Coaches

Tom Izzo, Ben Howland, and Johnny Dawkins are among the 43 current or former college-basketball coaches or administrators who urged the U.S. Supreme Court this week to uphold race-conscious admissions policies in a case involving the University of Texas at Austin.

The head men’s basketball coaches at Michigan State, UCLA, and Stanford were joined by more than 12,000 other coaches and athletics administrators represented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and Black Coaches & Administrators in filing a brief backing the University of Texas’ consideration of race in undergraduate admissions.

The brief, which included representatives at the NCAA, NAIA, and community-college levels, was one of more than 50 filed in support of the university. The coaches and administrators urged the court to allow colleges “individualized discretion” in determining how they select their students.

“When universities are deprived of the ability to build a racially diverse class, minority student-athletes are often a substantial number of the minorities on campus, which undermines the universities’ ability to build true diversity,” the coaches and athletics administrators argued. “Our experience coaching student-athletes demonstrates that achieving true diversity is crucial for both student-athletes and the broader college community.”

The case centers on a white student, Abigail Noel Fisher, who was rejected by the university and later sued, asserting she had been discriminated against because of the admissions policy. A federal appeals court left in place a lower-court decision to uphold the university’s policy. The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case in October.

For more on this story, follow the extensive coverage by Peter Schmidt, a Chronicle senior writer and author of Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War Over College Affirmative Action.

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