Our History


2003 NCAS staff

How Things Started

In 1985, Dr. Richard Lapchick, while serving as Director for The Center for the Study of Sport in Society (CSSS) at Northeastern University, convened a meeting with 11 college and university administrators to discuss the potential impact of sport on critical social issues in the world of athletics.  As a result of the meeting, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) was created with these 11 institutions as the first members: St. John’s University, California State University Long Beach, University of California Berkeley, Temple University, William Patterson University, DePaul University, Northeastern University, University of San Francisco, New York University, Seton Hall University, and the University of Detroit Mercy.  The primary goals of the NCAS, at that time, were to create a degree completion program for former student-athletes, as well as develop a community service program that would utilize the status of student-athletes as role models to convey socially relevant messages to high school and middle school students.  The degree completion program was a first of its kind, leading to the NCAS creating National STUDENT-Athlete Day in 1987.  Annually, National STUDENT-Athlete Day is celebrated on April 6.

In addition to the degree completion program, the NCAS created TEAMWORK Leadership Institute (TLI), a diversity and inclusion training program and Huddle Up (HU, formally known as Mentors in Violence Prevention, MVP), a violence prevention training program for member institutions.  TLI was developed for the NCAS from a CSSS program titled Project TEAMWORK. Under Dr. Lapchick‘s leadership, Project TEAMWORK was called “America’s most successful violence prevention program” by public opinion analyst Lou Harris.  Project TEAMWORK won the Peter F. Drucker Foundation Award as the nation’s most innovative non-profit program and was named by the Clinton Administration as a model for violence prevention.  MVP has also been so successful with college and high school athletes that all branches of the United States military have adopted the program.

In 2017, the NCAS Board of Directors determined that the organization's growth and evolution was no longer reflected in it's name.  Therefore, as of January 1, 2018, the NCAS was officially renamed the Institute For Sport & Social Justice (ISSJ).  The mission, vision, and goals have not changed, but the new name accurately reflects the true essence and work of the organization.  Currently, the ISSJ has over 280 member institutions and a host of affiliate (individual), student, and corporate members.  Since 1988, the NCAS/ISSJ hosts the Giant Steps Awards Banquet and Hall Fame Induction Ceremony to recognize and celebrate student-athletes and prominent sports figures that exemplify the meaning of National STUDENT-Athlete Day.

Dr. Richard Lapchick

Dr. Lapchick’s leadership and vision has resulted in over 33,900 student-athletes returning to NCAS/ISSJ member schools to pursue degrees. Over 15,000 have graduated.

Looking Forward

Nationally, student-athletes at NCAS/ISSJ institutions have worked with nearly 19.6 million students in school outreach and community service programs. Collectively, these student-athletes have donated more than 20.8 million hours of service while NCAS/ISSJ member institutions have donated more than $300 million in tuition assistance. The NCAS/ISSJ is collectively the nation’s largest and most highly recognized outreach and community service program using student-athletes to reach children. More than 95 percent of NCAS/ISSJ programs directly benefit children.

Dr. Lapchick’s mission of “changing lives through the power of sport” continues to charge on. In 2006, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Lapchick created the Hope For Stanley Alliance (HFS). HFS assist Hurricane Katrina survivors rebuild their homes and lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Since 2006, the NCAS/ISSJ has made 47 trips to New Orleans for HFS with more than 1,000 volunteers, providing over 50,000 hours of service, and worked on 127 homes. No other organization based outside of Louisiana has done more Hurricane Katrina community outreach than the HFS. Dr. Lapchick has been named an “Honorary Citizen” of New Orleans for his efforts with HFS.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lapchick, Delise O'Meally, CEO, Keith Lee, COO, and Dr. Jeff O'Brien, the NCAS/ISSJ continues to be the most cutting edge organization that is using the power and appeal of sport to effect social change in society. In addition to TLI and HU, the NCAS/ISSJ has developed Branded a Leader (critical decision making program for student-athletes) and Athletic Leadership in the 21st Century (cutting edge leadership education and training for coaches and athletic administrators). Over the past 30+ years, NCAS/ISSJ has conducted 1,000 (6,500 hours) diversity and inclusion workshop sessions, 2,000 (13,000 hours) gender violence prevention trainings, 200 (1,300 hours) athletic leadership education trainings, and hundreds of customized training programs to address client needs, the NCAS/ISSJ is the expert in “CHANGING LIVES THROUGH THE POWER OF SPORT.”