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USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.

USA TODAY

Towson associate women’s basketball coach Zach Kancher logged on to a Zoom call one evening last week and pulled up his latest scouting report. It started with the schedule, then information on personnel, then a series of strategies and tendencies that he knew would be critical in the weeks ahead.

Kancher has put together hundreds of scouting reports like this over the course of his coaching career. But this one had nothing to do with a game, and he wasn’t presenting it to his own team. He was helping members of Pittsburgh’s athletic department prepare to get out the vote.

“You put it in the framework, the language that coaches and student-athletes find acceptable,” Kancher said. “And now it creates a lot more clarity as far as what’s going on.”

As Election Day nears, coaches like Kancher have been at the center of a get-out-the-vote groundswell in college athletics, where athletic department officials are going to new lengths this year to ensure that their athletes cast their ballots by Nov. 3.

The NCAA’s Division I Council did its part last month by voting to prohibit athletically-related activities, including practices and games, on Election Day. Meanwhile, dozens of athletic departments have held voter registration drives and ensured that 100% of their eligible athletes are registered to vote, from Oregon and DePaul to California State University, Los Angeles and Yale.

Members of the Auburn football team registered to vote last month. (Photo: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics, Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Other schools have hit the same threshold at the team level, with entire rosters registering to vote, sometimes as a group. At the University of Missouri, for example, more than 60 football players marched in June from their campus to a local courthouse to register en masse shortly after George Floyd’s death.

“Our country’s created to make change through our elective bodies,” Missouri football coach Eli Drinkwitz told reporters on a teleconference last week. “That’s how the founding fathers have established it. That’s the way that we get to voice who we’re for and what we’re for.”

‘NO MORE EXCUSES’: Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse urging Americans in Canada to vote

Though athletes have been the driving force behind many of these voting initiatives, there’s been a notable shift on voting from coaches. Many have long encouraged their athletes to vote, often privately or individually. But this year, they have collectively embraced and emphasized get-out-the-vote efforts like rarely before — often orchestrating team-wide voting initiatives that might have, in previous election cycles, felt like a step too far into the political realm.

Kancher, who is in his fourth season at Towson, is both evidence and at the center of that shift.

Earlier this summer, as the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black men and women sparked protests around the country, Kancher said he saw athletes who were looking for ways to turn their emotions into