Coalition launches program to lift minority football coaches

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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An organization started by Maryland’s Mike Locksley is trying to help advance the careers of minority football coaches by connecting them with the people who do the hiring in college sports.

The National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches launched its first Coalition Academy this week.

The program matches coaches and athletic directors for mentorship. Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, Nevada head coach Jay Norvell, UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo and Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis are among the 12 coaches participating.

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois spearheaded the program and is among 13 current and former ADs taking part. Reed-Francois is also a member of the coalition’s board.

She said coaches and administrators met for the first time Thursday and were paired up. The program will also include monthly meetings for the coaches where they will hear from expert speakers and receive interview preparation.

“We created the academy with the intent of developing authentic relationships between athletic administrators and future head coaches. One purpose is so we can create advocates. Not just mentors, but advocates,” Reed-Francois said. “And we wanted to provide insights into the administrative world for those future head coaches in a very nonjudgmental space.”

Other athletic directors involved include Jack Swarbrick of Notre Dame, Dan Radakovich from Clemson, Greg Byrne from Alabama and Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez, who will be retiring this summer.

Locksley is one of 20 minority head coaches among 130 major college football schools. He founded the coalition last year to “prepare, promote and produce” minority coaches at all levels of football.

“In this field, there is great power in relationships and those relationships lead to opportunities,” Locksley said. “I think this program we have put together is a win-win for the mentors and mentees.”

The rest of the coaches taking part are Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton; Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson; Tennessee running backs coach Jerry Mack; Miami defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson; Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons; Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters; and Florida International defensive coordinator Everett Withers.

“There are so many talented coaches of color out there that can be great head coaches. And we wanted to make sure that when they get that opportunity that they’re prepared so that they’re successful,” Reed-Francois said. “And then also when they get that opportunity, we want to be authentic advocates for them as well.”