It is no secret that there exists a disparity in the hiring practices of white and minority coaches at all levels of athletics. At the collegiate level, however, the absence of minority coaches is more apparent than ever with 88.8 percent of coaches being white, according to the 2015 College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card (RGRC).
In order to combat this lack of representation, the National Association For Coaching Equity and Development (NAFCED) was created. On August 23rd and 24th, Morehouse College hosted the NAFCED for a two day clinic designed around improving coaching strategy.
“We are an association that is owned and governed and founded by racial and ethnic minority coaches,” Dr. Merritt Norvell, the NAFCED’s executive director, said. “One of our major goals is to give them a national voice on all the issues and policies that concern them.”
Dr. Norvell, along with prominent minority coaches such as Texas’s Shaka Smart, Georgetown’s John Thompson III and Memphis’s Tubby Smith, founded the NAFCED in 2015 after the dissipation of the Black Coaches Association. In addition to giving minority coaches a voice, the NAFCED focusses on three pillars: education/ professional development, employment and advocacy.
In a sense, the purpose of the NAFCED is to get coaches at all levels, from Division I down to AAU, in a space to exchange trade secrets.
“In this particular profession, you kind of got to be like a sponge: you got to absorb education and opportunity wherever you find it,” Norvell said. “You got to continue to learn because even the veteran guys continue to learn.”
Although the association’s home is in Lansing, MI, Norvell thought it was important to bring this clinic to Atlanta because of the numerous colleges in the area. Additionally, he felt it was critical that it be held at an HBCU:
“I think it’s historically significant that because our constituents are racial and ethnic minorities, it would be appropriate for us to come to an HBCU,” Norvell said, “And we’d like to have more meetings around the country on campuses as supposed to going off to the Marriott or the Hilton.”
The biggest takeaway from an event such as this is the importance of relationships. To be able to sit in a room with over 100+ years of coaching experience is an honor in itself. Taking full advantage of this experience, however, involves making a connection with someone else.
“Coaching is all about relationships,” Morehouse basketball Coach Grady Brewer said. “Making friendship an art is what we are trying to bring to the forefront of coaching.”
This applies to not just coaching but in every career. The phrase ‘it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know’, however cliché it may be, has once again found relevance.
Isaiah Smalls, II