Broderick Binns leads Multicultural Focus Group for Iowa Athletics

The Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Iowa Athletics looks to be a voice for student-athletes in his selective group.


Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for UI Athletics, Broderick Binns, sits down for an interview over Zoom on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Helping student-athletes on campus is a passion for Broderick Binns. The former Hawkeye defensive end from 2008-11 was named the executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Iowa Athletics in July.

Binns was named interim director in August 2019 after talks of creating the position started around the year before.

The department did open a national search after the position was created, and Binns said he wanted to make sure he earned it. But following the death of George Floyd — which happened near Binns’ hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota — Binns said he became more motivated.

“During that time, I had the chance and the opportunity to have our town hall meetings and kind of just expressed my perspective on the whole matter,” he said. “[I] kind of expressed to our staff and coaches and even our student-athletes why social injustice is so important.”

The diversity director went on to say he was in a position to be tapped once the higher-ups decided to proceed.

RELATED: Broderick Binns named Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for UI Athletics

“At that time, I believe [Iowa Athletics Director] Gary [Barta] was still unsure as to how we would move forward with choosing someone for this role,” Binns said. “I believe once he came to the conclusion that he wanted someone in the role moving forward he chose me.”

One of Binns’ responsibilities is to lead the Multicultural Focus Group, which is composed of 17 student-athletes. The group has been around for about 30 years, Binns said, but that it was originally for only minority student-athletes.

When Liz Tovar was hired as associate athletics director for academic student services, she changed it to the current name and made it inclusive to all identities.

Tovar previously led the group on top of her full-time job. She is now the interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the UI, though she will still have responsibilities within athletics.

Typically, student-athletes were nominated, but this year it was changed to where student-athletes had to submit an application in order to be selected. Binns said this has allowed for more passionate people in the group.

“I just think, overall, I can’t stress the importance of education,” said Monika Czinano, group member and junior women’s basketball player. “Especially this year, with all the racial injustice that has been happening, I think it’s just super important to become as educated as you can and to figure out where to use that knowledge.”

JerQuavia Henderson, a sophomore on the women’s gymnastics team, said she joined the group because she thought it would be a good leadership experience for her. She said she also joined because the group is a platform for student-athletes from different social groups and ethnicities.

So far, the group has had one meeting, which was meant to introduce members to each other and how they can make their events fit student-athletes. They will talk about their ideas at their next meeting in September. They plan to meet monthly.

They hope to meet with University of Iowa administration once per semester, including President Bruce Harreld. Binns said he wants for Tovar, Barta, and himself to be the megaphone for any ideas or issues the group sees.

“I feel like the group of individuals that we are, I hope it gives other people kind of a look into the change that will come in the future,” Henderson said. “Because we do have a lot of different ideas and opinions, but at the end of the day, I hope we all come to make some sort of change to make other people more comfortable.”

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