Message to KU Athletics from VP

Dear Golden Bear Athletics Family,

The events of the past week have demanded my full attention in other areas of the division, and I am embarrassed, disappointed and sorry that I have not been able to personally address the concerns of our student-athletes and coaching staff much earlier.  The extra time has permitted me to really reflect on the challenges, listen to our students on social media and e-mail, and talk with my fellow cabinet members on how we can best help.

First, let me say that as your vice president and one of your biggest fans, I stand with students of color, and black lives do matter to me, the Athletic Department, our division, and to President Hawkinson and the entire university leadership.  I have had very deep discussions this week, and realize now is the time for understanding, compassion and change.  I am not in your shoes, and don’t pretend to know the emotions you are feeling, but I do understand you are hurting.

During these times, I am reminded why I love athletics.  Sports broke barriers first.  Sports are where individuals of different race, color, religion, and sexual orientation come together and work together for common results.  Sports are where we learn many of our life lessons, can talk and grow together, while doing what we truly love.  While not perfect, sports CAN make a difference.

Golden Bear Athletics can, and will, be leaders on our campus in listening and helping our students, faculty, staff and alumni of color.  Of that, I am confident.  But first, we must look at ourselves, and ask our own student-athletes and coaches what WE can do in our department to make a difference.

Just this morning, I asked our Athletic Strategic Planning Committee to look at our current strategic plans, and talk with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee leaders to learn how we can do better as administrators, support staff, coaches and student-athletes in supporting diversity in the department.  My hope is this will result in actionable items we can begin working on that will make a difference, now and in the future.

In closing, I would encourage all Golden Bear student-athletes to reach out to your talented coaches, athletic administration, support staff or me personally if you have questions, concerns or ideas.  Your KU Athletics staff is here for you.  We want to hear from you.  We will stand by you through the challenges of today, tomorrow and beyond.


Matt Santos
Vice President for University Relations & Athletics