Maryland’s Michael Locksley forms group to help minority coaches

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Maryland coach Michael Locksley made it to the top. Now he wants to help others find an easier path, and he’s enlisted some powerful NFL names in his effort.

According to Jim Trotter of, Locksley formed the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, which hopes to help speed up the pace of minority hiring in the college ranks and in the NFL.

“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, said. “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.”

At the moment, there are three Black (and four minority) head coaches in the NFL, and just 14 Black head coaches among the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams at the college level.

He’s enlisted some high-powered NFL names to join him on the board of directors, including former Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Dolphins G.M. Chris Grier, former Texans G.M. Rick Smith, Washington executive Doug Williams and Hall of Fame G.M. Bill Polian.

The group also includes Alabama coach Nick Saban, South Carolina State coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough, the first black Division I head coach Willie Jeffries, former N.C. State basketball coach and athletic director Debbie Yow, and Desiree Reed-Francois, UNLV athletic director and first Hispanic female and woman of color to be AD at an FBS school.

“These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers,” Locksley said. “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.”

That group hopes to identify and vet potential candidates for jobs, in hopes of eliminating the notion that there aren’t enough qualified minority applicants in the pipeline.

The Coalition is expected to start building a list in four or five months, and then share those names in hopes of expanding the numbers throughout college and pro football.

6 responses to “Maryland’s Michael Locksley forms group to help minority coaches

  1. This is a helpful starting point, now they need to work on networking those candidates with the people that do the hiring. They should try to make it so that the first time they meet the hiring managers isn’t necessarily the interview.

  2. This looks promising. These mentoring programs are much more effective than having teams check a box to satisfy a rule when they already know who they want to hire. Put people in position to be that guy earlier than when the opening pops up.

  3. Good for him. Anyone who thinks this isn’t positive is out of step with reality. This isn’t about “hiring the best person for the job”, it’s about an old boy’s network fueled by cronyism and yes, inherent racism.

    This isn’t saying that every minority candidate needs to be immediately hired into a HC position. It’s just acknowledging that they’ve been shut out for a long, long time and should be given a chance. A chance to learn and develop and grow, just like all their white counterparts who’ve had much less of a barrier to get into coaching.

  4. Problem is there are only so many positions to fill … last I checked we lived in the land of opportunity, why doesn’t a group just invest their time and money to start an actual NFL competitive league , sure the pay won’t be as good as the NFL at the start but I’m sure a diversity of players and coaches would sacrifice that to eventually build up another league for the future generations to excell in … you know exactly what the founders of the NFL/AFL had to endure. But in reality it’s all about the money

  5. I think this is great and the focal point should be on the predominantly minority schools where they need the most help. The MEAC and SWAC for example are the same as they were 20 years ago…

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