Emmitt Smith 'Utterly Disgusted' by University of Florida's DEI Department Closure

Emmitt Smith takes a stand on educational equity issues.

by Nouman Rasool
Emmitt Smith 'Utterly Disgusted' by University of Florida's DEI Department Closure
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Pepsi

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Emmitt Smith has publicly criticized his alma mater, the University of Florida, for its decision to disband its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) department, a move that also led to the termination of 13 staff members associated with the program.

Smith, utilizing the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, expressed his disappointment and concern over the university's actions. This development follows the enactment of Senate Bill 267 by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last May, which prohibits state funds from being allocated to DEI initiatives within public universities across Florida.

In a poignant statement, Smith argued against the homogeneity of leadership, stressing that a lack of diverse perspectives often leads to poor decision-making regarding equality and diversity. "The assumption that a leadership group composed solely of individuals from similar backgrounds can effectively address issues of equality and diversity has been repeatedly disproven by history," Smith articulated.

This controversial decision by the University of Florida was made shortly after the Florida Board of Education ratified new legislation on January 17, aimed at curtailing expenditures related to DEI efforts in the state's colleges and universities.

Smith condemned the university's compliance with what he perceives as the current political climate's regressive pressures, highlighting a missed opportunity for leadership and moral fortitude.

Smith's Call to Action

Smith, a celebrated figure in the university's athletic history, having earned All-American and SEC Player of the Year awards in 1989 thanks to his impressive performance of 1,806 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns in just 11 games, urged current and future minority athletes at the University of Florida to recognize and speak out against the school's recent policy shift.

"This decision by the University, which effectively closes doors on minorities without any form of accountability or oversight, should not go unnoticed by the many minority athletes at UF," Smith implored. The university's stance has sparked a significant backlash, with Smith's critique underscoring the broader implications for diversity and inclusion efforts within academic institutions, particularly in the context of sports and beyond.