LOUDONVILLE — For at least several games this upcoming season, the Siena men’s basketball team plans to wear black uniforms to bring awareness to social injustices.
Saints head coach Carmen Maciariello confirmed that decision Wednesday during a video conference call with reporters on the day that Coaches 4 Change, an organization he helped spearhead the creation, was officially launched.
“It’s happening,” Maciariello said of the program’s new alternate uniform, which he mentioned Tuesday during his weekly appearance on ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team (WTMM-FM). “They’re designed and ordered. It’s something that can draw attention . . . to issues.”
That’s one of the main aims, too, of Coaches 4 Change, which formed with more than a few dozen college coaches backing it. Along with Maciariello, Siena assistant coach Antoni Wyche and special assistant to the head coach Matt Miner are involved with the organization, while former Siena head coach Louis Orr — now an assistant coach at Georgetown — is among the group of coaches involved with the group.
“The mission of C4C is to provide a platform that engages, educates, empowers, and evolves the collegiate student-athlete on issues of social injustices, systemic racism, and the power of voting in the endless pursuit of equality,” a statement, in part, released Wednesday from Coaches 4 Change reads.
The Coaches 4 Change website can be accessed at coaches4change.org. The website contains a variety of educational tools, information on how to register to vote and more.
A series of messages on the website’s homepage reads: “The solution for today’s injustice won’t be simple. There is no panacea to the complex problem that is racism in America. Rooted in all the things Americans sweep to the side, this problem will likely take many years and many presidents to abolish. But the change starts with you. The solution starts with you.”
Maciariello said the organization’s website represents “just the foundation” of where the group wants to grow from as it moves forward.
“This thing is going to grow,” Maciariello said.
“For a long time, there’s been a lot of talk, but there hasn’t been a lot of action,” Wyche said. “This is kind of putting some meat behind it. Giving a platform to hopefully create some real change moving forward.”
Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said the men’s basketball program’s alternate black uniforms are meant to provide a way to help continue the nation’s conversation regarding social issues. D’Argenio said the plan is for the Saints to wear their black uniforms for a selection of home games at which the program will promote social justice awareness.
“We’ve talked about how we can use them and when, and we all agreed that you don’t want to do it for every game because then it loses its specialness,” said D’Argenio, whose teams regularly wear uniforms consisting of gold, green and white.
Maciariello specifically mentioned the Saints could wear the black uniforms during games played in February — Black History Month — but that the team could wear them, too, in an event such as the Orlando Invitational at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, scheduled for this November.
Initially, Maciariello said he wanted to have “Floyd” on the backs of his team’s black jerseys in reference to George Floyd, whose late-May death during an encounter with police officers in Minneapolis spurred protests across the United States, or other names as selected by players. MAAC rules, Maciariello said, don’t allow for the names on jerseys to be anything other than that of the player wearing it, but the Siena coach said it’s possible the team’s warm-up shirts will include social-justice references on them.
“I left that up to Manny [Camper], Don [Carey] and Jalen [Pickett] to talk with the guys and figure out what they want to do,” Maciariello said.
Maciariello said the Saints have had team discussions about the events going on in the country during the last couple months.
“I kind of leave it up to them, saying, ‘Hey, I’m a white man of privilege — I have no idea what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but I love you and I’m here for you, and if we need to talk about things, you know you can call me,’” Maciariello said.
In his first season as Siena’s head coach, Maciariello led the Saints to a 20-10 record before their season concluded with the cancellation of the MAAC tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maciariello said wins and losses, though, were only part of the reason he’d always wanted to be a head coach.
“The main reason was having a platform to change and impact lives,” Maciariello said. “Not only on the court, but off the court.”
Coaches 4 Change, Maciariello said, can serve as a vehicle to help college athletes — and others — away from the court. On its website, the organization lists “to achieve 100% voter registration for college athletes at every college across the country” as its goal.
“This,” Maciariello said, “is about our student-athletes having a voice, having a platform.”
Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.