NFL legend Emmitt Smith blasts Florida for ending DEI progams

NFL legend and former University of Florida Gator Emmitt Smith is blasting Florida’s decision to end diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities.

“When I see them destroying DEI for the sake of politics … it’s not even common sense,” Smith said in an interview with USA Today published Monday. “This is just sheer out of spite and sheer power.

He had previously spoken out in support of the DEI programs in March, when his alma mater had to get rid of them due to a state law.

At the time, Smith said Florida had “conformed to the political pressures of today’s time.”

He told USA Today there were multiple reasons he felt compelled to speak out.

“One, being an alumnus and having contributed as much as I did on the football field and to walk away with a University of Florida degree and feeling I’m a part of the university from afar, and still at heart, I was extremely disappointed,” said Smith. “Because when I was in college, and everywhere I’ve been, they always talked about leadership … and how we needed to become leaders — especially athletes.”

The famous former Dallas Cowboy said it isn’t a coincidence that as name, image and likeness (NIL) deals make movement in the college athletics world, some are trying to take away DEI.

“So, let’s not talk about dismantling DEI at a time I think DEI happens to be a consequence of NIL. You get one, they take the other one away. It’s strategic,” Smith said.

The former running back also encouraged students to reconsider athletics at schools that have nixed DEI programs.

“If you are going to go to a university, make sure you go to one that’s open-minded,” said Smith. “Don’t always think about yourself. And when you think about others, think about the decision the University of Florida just made when it comes down to the DEI program. It could impact your family. It could impact your father and mother, your sister or your homie that’s starting a business, who wants to do business in the state of Florida.”

Some universities are beginning to not have a choice as states Republican states such as Texas are leading the charge in passing laws that restrict DEI initiatives at public institutions.

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