Story at a glance

  • Michael Locksley is in his second year as head coach of the University of Maryland football team, hired as part of an overhaul of the program after student-athlete Jordan McNair's death and an investigation into the culture of the program.
  • College football coaching is often part of the pipeline into coaching in the NFL, but it lacks diversity.
  • Locksley has formed the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches in order to help elevate non-white coaches in the sport.

When Michael Locksley took the position as head coach of the University of Maryland (UMD) football team last year, he had a hefty task ahead of him: reforming the culture of a program that ultimately played a role in the death of one of its players. Now in his second year, he’s hoping to reform the culture of coaching entirely with the formation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.

"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 told NFL.COM. "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."


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Like many professional sports leagues seeking to return amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL’s plans for the upcoming season include outreach efforts to Black players and fans. The same league that Colin Kaepernick accused of collusion after protesting by kneeling during the national anthem — he dropped the grievances after a settlement including a confidentiality agreement — announced that for the first week of the season, the song known as the Black national anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing," will be performed live or played before the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Still, representation remains an issue for the NFL, especially among the league's most paid positions, including quarterbacks and coaches. There are only three Black head coaches among the NFL's 32 teams and just 14 Black head coaches in college's 130 Football Bowl Subdivision squads. The NFL expanded the "Rooney Rule" this year, requiring clubs to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching openings and at least one minority candidate for any coordinator job, but the lack of diversity among final hires is often attributed to a lack of qualified nonwhite candidates "in the pipeline."


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Through this nonprofit, Locksley hopes to identify and groom coaches of color — and all genders — and create a list of candidates vetted by a board of directors. 

"These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers," Locksley told NFL.COM. "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."

Some of those names on the Board of Directors are University of Alabama head coach and six-time national champion Nick Saban, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and Super Bowl XLIII winner Mike Tomlin, and Ozzie Newsome, a Hall of Famer on college and pro levels, first Black general manager in the NFL, overseer of two Super Bowl winners in Baltimore.


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Published on Aug 06, 2020