September 11, 2020
While the University of Maryland's football season is likely to be scoreless following the Big Ten's decision to suspend gameplay amid the coronavirus pandemic, head coach Mike Locksley is still putting in work off the field in an initiative to bring more minority coaches to the next level in their careers.
Locksley, one of just 13 minority head coaches in the NCAA's top 65 football programs, started the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches that aims to help elevate qualified coaches on all levels, including youth programs.
"We have so many qualified minority candidates that have trained their entire careers for these opportunities and what the coalition wants to do is, the three pillars of it is: to prepare, promote, and produce the next level of coaches, or head coaches," Locksley told Cheddar.
The NCMFC's board of directors, according to Locksley, is made of football professionals, including executives and both former and current coaches. Some notable members of the coalition include the University of Alabama's Nick Saban and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin.
Among the obstacles that minority coaches face in leveling up their careers, Locksley said, is that they are not afforded the same opportunities as their counterparts.
"When we formed the coalition, our goal was to try to create [opportunities] and remove some of the roadblocks that we haven't been able to overcome with just being able to have the opportunity to get these jobs," he noted.
The idea behind the coalition is to provide a "viable list of candidates" to leagues that, with the backing of the coalition and its connections, are inclined to be interviewed and assessed.
While the NFL has established the Rooney Rule, a mandate that requires each team to interview minority candidates, the NCAA does not have a similar guideline in place.
For Locksley, the grind of preparing for battle on the gridiron translates to his fight for success in helping elevate more minority coaches. Slow and steady wins the race, according to the coach.
"There's a process that goes into winning and for me, that's what the coalition's job to do is: to focus on the process of one, removing roadblocks, two, creating the awareness that we do have qualified individuals that are minorities that can do the job," he stated.