[Fox News] NFL legend Emmitt Smith rips University of Florida for eliminating DEI positions

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Emmitt Smith, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys and former star running back with the Florida Gators, ripped his alma mater after the school fired all Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) positions and administrative appointments.

The university made its decision to comply with Florida law

The Florida Board of Governors passed a regulation in January that limited public funding for DEI, defining them as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.”

The Independent Florida Alligator, a campus newspaper, said 13 full-time diversity, equity and inclusion positions were dismissed and 15 administrative appointments were eliminated.

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Smith, on Sunday, slammed the university in a lengthy statement.

“I’m utterly disgusted by UF’s decision and the precedent that it sets,” Smith said. “Without the DEI department, the job falls to the Office of the Provost, who already has their hands full, to raise money for the university and continue to advance the academic studies in athletic programs.

“We cannot continue to believe and trust that a team of leaders all made up of the same background will make the right decision when it comes to equality and diversity. History has already proven that is not the case.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made halting DEI a cornerstone of his efforts to overhaul education in the state, wrote on X, “Florida is where DEI goes to die.”

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DEI campus proponents argue they help correct systemic inequities and address increasingly diverse student populations, while its foes like DeSantis have said they are a form of leftist discrimination. 

“We need diverse thinking and backgrounds to enhance our University and the DEI department is necessary to accomplish those goals,” Smith continued.

“Instead of showing courage and leadership, we continue to fail based on systemic issues with this decision, UF has conformed to the political pressures of today’s time.

“To the MANY minority athletes at UF, please be aware and vocal about this decision by the University who is now closing the doors on other minorities without any oversight.

“And to those who think it’s not your problem and stay on the side lines and say nothing, you are complicit in supporting systemic issues.”

Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.

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