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Boise State men's basketball pushes to register every college basketball player to vote

The Idaho Statesman — Ron Counts The Idaho Statesman

Sept. 14-- Sep. 14--Boise State assistant men's basketball coach Mike Burns can't help but get emotional when discussing a team meeting the Broncos held in the days following George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis police officer.

"To hear our players articulate in the fashion that they did, that's what you strive for as a coach," Burns said during a conference call with reporters. "You want these guys to grow as people and players, and in a circumstance like that, you saw that manifested, and it was powerful."

Players and coaches dissected many of the racial issues plaguing the country and shared ideas for change -- the most powerful of which was a pledge to get out and vote.

Boise State, led by Burns, is attempting to help register 100% of college basketball players across the country to vote in the upcoming presidential election, which is Nov. 3.

"Voting is a habit," Burns said. "It doesn't matter which side of the political ledger you're on. This was a nonpartisan endeavor that we could sink our teeth in that could not only help our democracy but help our student-athletes."

Burns is one of seven basketball coaches throughout the country working in tandem with ALL IN and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, according to a press release from Boise State. He's joined by Patrick E. Carey II (Washington Adventist), Joseph Kennedy (Holy Cross), Ryan Marks (St. Francis), Eric Reveno (Georgia Tech), Marlon Stewart (Oregon State) and Benjy Taylor (Tuskegee).

The initiative is being spearheaded by the NABC, in conjunction with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. The NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has recommended that the Division I council adopt legislation that the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 be a mandatory day off every year.

In June, the NCAA recommended that all schools give athletes Nov. 3 off, but it has yet to take an official stance. The Division I Council is expected to vote on the proposal during its meeting Sept. 16, and Burns would like to see it become an annual thing.

"We're trying to create voting habits, not only with our men's basketball players, but all student-athletes," Burns said. "For voters who register when they're 18 to 24, civic engagement becomes a lifelong habit. Our student-athletes are already leaders in the communities they come from and here in Boise, and it has been powerful to see what they're doing in their own individual ways to make a difference."

Burns said only four of the Broncos' domestic players were registered to vote before this year, but all eligible players will be by election day. Players have the choice to register in Idaho or their home state, and senior Derrick Alston Jr. has played a major role in helping his fellow athletes do so through allintovote.org.

"D.A. is a very bright, articulate kid," Burns said. "He's always been engaged, and he's a pivotal leader on our campus and in Boise."

Alston is the latest Boise State athlete to take up the cause. In July, offensive lineman Donte Harrington held a drive, which resulted in 46 football players registering to vote in Idaho.

Want to know more?

National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 22, and the 2020 presidential election will be held on Nov. 3. To learn more about the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge., check out allintovote.org.

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