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Mike Locksley, the head coach of the University of Maryland’s football team, was tired of hearing the same excuse for why so few minorities were hired as football coaches. Over and over he heard the excuse that there weren’t enough qualified minority candidates, something he felt was far from the truth.
Locksley decided to do something about it, and formed the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches specifically to address that problem. The purpose of the NCMFC, a nonprofit, is to “identify and groom” male and female coaches of color for promotion toward head coaching, and to provide a vetted list of minority candidates to any team with a top coaching job to fill.
"When I took the Maryland job last year and looked at the landscape of college football, I thought to myself, ‘There's something missing. I'm on the back nine of my career and the pathway to becoming a head coach is still as difficult as when I got into the business in 1992,’ " Locksley, 50, told NFL.com’s Jim Trotter on Wednesday. "I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level."
Two years in the making
The idea for this organization actually began two years ago, when Locksley noticed that minority candidates were continually getting passed over for top football jobs at the college and professional level. Locksley, who was then the offensive coordinator at Alabama, put his head together with two friends in the business and developed the QuarterBlack Symposium. That was later taken on by the NFL and turned into the Quarterback Coaching Summit.
Still, Locksley wanted to do more. After he was hired at Maryland, and he noticed again how few Black head coaches there were, he created the coalition. He knows it’s not the only organization trying to help minority coaching candidates, but he wants the NCMFC to focus on helping them at all levels, everywhere.
“We want to help the youth coach who wants to become a high school coach,” Locksley said. “We want to help the high school coach who wants to become a college coach. And we want to help the college coach who wants to become maybe a coordinator or assistant in the NFL, and NFL assistants and coordinators who want to become head coaches. We're here to help all the different levels of coaches take the next step or be given the tools to take the next step."
Board of directors staffed with trailblazers
Locksley knows the NCMFC has a lot of work to do. Of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, just 14 head coaches are Black. In the NFL, just three of 32 head coaches are Black. But he and the NCMFC board of directors are ready to do the work — a board that contains some important and trailblazing figures in sports.
Debbie Yow, retired women’s basketball coach and the first female athletic director at any ACC school.
Ozzie Newsome, Hall of Famer and the NFL’s first Black general manager.
Willie Jeffries, first Black head coach in Division I football.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and one of three Black head coaches in the NFL.
Desiree Reed-Francois, athletic director at UNLV and the first woman of color to be athletic director at an FBS school.
Doug Williams, former quarterback and coach, and current senior vice president of player development for the Washington Football Team.
Oliver "Buddy" Pough, head coach at South Carolina State since 2002.
Rick Smith, former general manager of the Houston Texans.
Chris Grier, Miami Dolphins general manager.
Bill Polian, Hall of Fame general manager.
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach
With a board full of seasoned coaches and administrators, Locksley is optimistic about what they can accomplish.
"These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers," Locksley told Trotter. "They all have been at the top of the mountain, per se, in their respective areas, whether winning Super Bowls or national championships or being pioneers, like Debbie Yow and Willie Jeffries. We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren't enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we're going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people. What's needed is opportunities."
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