There are too few Black head coaches in college football. In a sport that is roughly 50% Black at the player level, only 15 of 131 FBS jobs are held by Black men. According to an NCAA race and gender demographics database, 61% of football players in the SEC are Black, and yet there are no Black coaches in one of the richest and certainly the most recently successful conferences in the sport. Qualified Black coaches are out there, but the responsibility rests with athletic directors to follow through and hire them.
In an effort to surface more of them as well as prepare them for interview scenarios and provide athletic directors with data on candidates that fit their criteria, Under Armor has ramped up its five-year commitment to the National Coalition for Minority Football Coaches with a $1.5 million investment, much of which will go to expanding the Coalition’s academy program that pairs up-and-coming Black coaches with sitting athletic directors.
Representation will always matter to those who are in the underrepresented class. For former five-star recruit Rakim Jarrett, the fact that his head coach Mike Locksley, the coalition’s founder and president, was hired by Maryland from Alabama (where Locksley recruited Jarrett as an assistant) helped the Terps beat out SEC stalwarts for his commitment.
“It was between Maryland and Alabama and Tennessee,” Jarrett says. “Maryland was the odd school out for most people if you look at it in the recruiting aspect. But it’s like where I’m from and the head coach is well known in the area and he’s African-American. That kind of set it apart for me and being that I knew him in my earlier days in recruiting, that was big for me.”
Jarrett added that it means a lot to him to have a coach who simply shares similar lived experiences he has, and Locksley’s role is proof Black men can succeed in leadership positions. Last year, the academy featured Marcus Freeman, Tony Elliott and Jay Norvell, who are now head coaches, and multiple others who were in the running for jobs including FAMU’s Willie Simmons and Miami’s Josh Gattis. This year’s includes other up-and-comers including Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee, TCU defensive coordinator Van Malone and USC defensive backs coach Donte Williams.
“We’re not here to tell people who to hire,” Locksley told Sports Illustrated in March. “But what we are here to say is that we do have minority coaches, and you keep hearing We don’t have a pipeline, and that’s so not true. There’s so many coaches that are prepared with the tools necessary to lead programs but we just want you to put ’em on the dance floor and give them a real opportunity.”
Per the NCMFC release, 55% of the jobs that opened last year reached out to the Coalition, with a stated goal of reaching 75% this year. Under Armour’s investment will also help the Coalition increase staffing to help build more analytical profiles to offer schools who reach out to the Coalition for feedback on candidates in order to create a more diverse applicant pool. Schools reach out with their criteria for a new coach, and the Coalition provides them with minority coaching candidates that meet their needs by leveraging data from another Coalition partner, SportSource Analytics, a leading data provider in the industry servicing agents, search firms and athletic departments .
A source tells Sports Illustrated that the Coalition has already reached out about the five FBS jobs that are currently open.
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