Quashan Lockett was in a car on his way home on June 30 when a news alert came to his phone that USC and UCLA were joining the Big Ten. His initial reaction mirrors the reaction of many others, but with a twist:
Just two weeks ago, Lockett was hired by the Pac-12 Conference Office for an executive role.
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ And then you think, ‘What’s going on? Is there going to be a Pac-12 too?'” he recalled.
“But then you let things settle down and realize that everything will be okay. I’m not going to Pac-12 because of one school. I’m going to make sure the athlete is front and center. be.”
Lockett is joining the conference on Monday as its first Chief People and Inclusion Officer, with a direct reporting line to Commissioner George Klewkopf.
In the role, Lockett will work with both conference staff and campuses on matters ranging from human resources to talent development to diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging (DEIB).
Lockett, 38, has spent her career in the sports and entertainment world, most recently as the global head of human resources at hospitality company On Location.
“It is difficult to separate the DEIB from the broader function of traditional human resources,” Kleevkopf. “So we wanted to step up that role and have someone who makes us think about our human capital every day.
“” Quashan has incredible leadership and the ability to calm down. Especially given the current cycle, it is important that one has those skills. ,
With the arrival of Lockett, the Pac-12 joined the Big Ten as the only Power Five convention with senior executives in roles dedicated to the people, inclusion and culture space.
His background is a mix of human resources and DEIB, plus organizational development – areas in need of modernization throughout college athletics.
“The realignment is an example of rapid change,” said Lockett, who holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
“The business model is not where it is needed. I think my experience building organization will help bring the convention into the current century and ensure that student-athletes are successful.
“We need to recruit people, develop talent, prepare people for careers, help student athletes, and work with schools.”
The convention is doing that work – just not with a dedicated position.
“Discussions began in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd. It was really a call to action for us,” said Teresa Gould, Pac-12 deputy commissioner for sport management and institutional services.
Gould assumed the role on an interim basis, even as university presidents and vice chancellors approved the hiring of a standalone senior position during the final months of former commissioner Larry Scott’s term.
“Larry felt the new commissioner should pay the rent,” said Kleevkopf, whose term began last summer.
“We were looking for a unicorn, someone who had traditional human resources, who also had deep DEIB chops. When the search firm (turnkey) found Quashan, we knew we had the person.
Lockett, who lives in Texas, is also the founder of Color of Sports, which is described on his LinkedIn page as “a purpose-driven change agency.” With the Pac-12, their focus will shift from conference staff to further athletics departments.
Combine an increased focus on social justice issues with rapidly unfolding economic reforms across college athletics (for example: name, image and likeness), and the need to provide support services for athletes has never been greater. .
In some cases, the Pac-12 is late to the game in this case. Then again, everyone in college athletics is like that.
Lockett’s only Power Five counterpart, Big Ten senior vice president/people and culture officer Omar Brown, was hired last year.
“We need someone on this every day,” Gould said, “so we can complement what[campus]is doing. What levers do we have from the center versus the things they can do?
“It’s clear to me that Quashan is very passionate about where DEIB sits within the mission of the conference.”
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