There are two things no sports program can do without: athletes and fans. By the early 1990s, the UT Athletics Department had reason to worry about losing them both. Like many universities in Texas, a significant number of UT’s student athletes were African American. But historically UT’s overall enrollment of underrepresented or underserved students had been smaller than most of its neighbors. When new African American student enrollment fell in 1991, Longhorn student athletes joined the public in crying foul at the racist message this disparity sent.
Jody Conradt, then head coach of UT’s beloved Lady Longhorn basketball team, looks back on that painful time. “We had big problems. UT was just not seen as a welcoming place, particularly in communities of color. It hit morale and recruiting hard. We really needed to reach out and show that we cared.”
The Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP), devised by Conradt and colleagues Tom Penders, Donna Lopiano, and DeLoss Dodds in 1991, has done much to bridge the gap between UT and the communities that it wants to engage—one child at a time.
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The Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP) and its 1000+ volunteer tutors and mentors would like to take you to the magical color wonderland known as Color Me Rad on Saturday, November 9, at 10 a.m. at the Travis County Expo Center.
Color Me Rad is a 5K run/walk unlike any other. Every kilometer you will enjoy a Color Bomb Squad that will leave you laughing and looking like a tie-dyed hippy. The race is selling out quickly, so visit http://bit.ly/colormerad13 for your ticket today! For a limited time, use promo code LONGHORNS for 10% off the entrance fee.
NLP is a unit within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE). Established in 1991 by UT Athletics, the NLP is an educational incentive program operated in partnership with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in 30 Title 1 elementary and middle schools. The program serves economically disadvantaged youth in grades 2 through 8 who are at higher risks of experiencing academic difficulties, including low grade performance, low performance on tests, low school attendance and higher rates of dropping out of school. Athletes from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for Men and Women, along with head coaches, university staff and community leaders, present the prizes to the students as incentives to better their individual achievement for each grading period over the course of the academic year.
Hook ‘em Horns!