Northern Illinois University Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier was honored by NIU’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities (PCSM) Thursday, April 18, as one of the recipients of the 2019 Deacon Davis Diversity Award at the PCSM’s Annual Diversity and Inclusion Luncheon at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center on the NIU campus.
Created in 2004, the award recognizes significant contributions made to the improvement of the status of minorities on the NIU campus by current NIU undergraduate, graduate, professional students, faculty, supportive professional staff, civil service, academic units, offices, programs or organizations.
“Anyone who knows me knows that diversity and inclusion, and promoting diversity across all aspects of the university, is a cause that I am passionate about and have championed throughout my career,” Frazier said. “I’m humbled to be recognized for my efforts here at NIU, but this is more about the efforts and impact of our athletics staff and student-athletes, and what the proud men and women of NIU Athletics mean to both the NIU campus and community! Congratulations to them and to all of the other deserving recipients of this year’s Deacon Davis Diversity Award.”
The award honors McKinley “Deacon” Davis, a Freeport, Illinois native and college basketball star at the University of Iowa who went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. Hired by NIU President Rhoten Smith in 1968 as director of Special Programs, Davis founded the CHANCE (College Help and Assistance Necessary for College Education) Program which has provided the door of opportunity for generations of minority students to both enter and graduate from NIU.
In 2014, Frazier served as co-chair of the campus’ Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, a group of 16 faculty and staff charged with exploring issues that pertain to diversity and inclusion at NIU which resulted in a comprehensive report consisting of 13 recommendations, and led to the hiring of NIU’s first chief diversity officer. He remains committed to that plan and has supported numerous efforts and programs of the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion over the past several years.
Upon hiring NIU alumnus Thomas Hammock to lead the Huskie football program in January 2019, NIU became the only NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision institution with African Americans in place as head football coach, head men’s basketball coach and director of athletics. Vanderbilt University recently joined NIU on that list.
In December 2015, the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) selected NIU Athletics as the 2016 recipient of the NCAA/MOAA Diversity and Inclusion Award. The award annually recognizes and celebrates the initiatives, policies and practices of colleges, universities and/or athletic conference offices that embrace diversity and inclusion.
Frazier has also been honored with the 2014 Distinguished Service Award for his leadership of MOAA. His commitment to the issue dates all the way back to the roots of his administrative career at the University of Maine where, as an assistant football coach, he was tabbed as the athletic department’s multicultural affairs liaison where he created programs aimed at fostering diversity.
Frazier is the third NIU Athletics administrator to receive the Deacon Davis Diversity Award from the NIU PCSM. Former Deputy Athletics Director Robert Collins was honored in 2010, while then-Associate Athletics Director Monique Bernoudy was one of the inaugural award winners in 2004.