Saban, Krzyzewski among 74 coaches supporting Calipari's minority hiring program

Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

With John Calipari among 74 coaches taking part, the John McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative is now taking applications for Future Leader opportunities at schools across the country.

Calipari will fund six positions at the University of Kentucky, UK announced Monday. Information about the program and how to apply can be found at

Calipari has spoken of the program as a way for minorities to gain access and opportunities for work in athletic departments. On multiple occasions, the UK coach said he considered the program as a way he could make a difference in dealing with this country's systemic racism.

The idea sprung from the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people, he said. Those killings sparked protests of this country's history of systemic racism.

"Now it's time to take action," Calipari said in a news release announcing the program's launch. "The MLI is about access and opportunity: real-world experience and networking platforms designed to elevate talented young women and men of color who have previously been ignored by a system that lacks diversity and inclusion ... . I'm excited about where we're headed and feel this is a great first step toward affecting measurable change in our corner of the world."

The coaches who joined Calipari to serve as "ambassadors" for the program include a who's who of college basketball coaches: Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Roy Williams of North Carolina, Bill Self of Kansas, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Jay Wright of Villanova, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Chris Mack of Louisville.

High-profile football coaches on board include Nick Saban of Alabama and Dabo Swinney of Clemson. UK football coach Mark Stoops is participating along with Will Muschamp of South Carolina and Lovie Smith of Illinois.

Seven of Calipari's Southeastern Conference coaching colleagues are participating: Buzz Williams of Texas A&M, Tom Crean of Georgia, Kermit Davis of Ole Miss, Cuonzo Martin of Missouri, Frank Martin of South Carolina, Nate Oats of Alabama and Rick Barnes of Tennessee. Barnes designated his donation fund a position at Tennessee Martin.

Calipari has emphasized that the positions available in the MLI program be wide-ranging.


"Not (just) in basketball," he said this summer. "But I'm talking of media relations, marketing, fund raising. How about training staff? Weight training. Senior women's administration. How about we give access through athletics? ... How about we get athletic departments to start looking different? That we can be an influencer on. I told our people I'd be the point of funding ... . It's about executive development."

Earlier this summer, P.G. Peeples, who is president and CEO of the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, said that the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, had given "an all-hands-on-deck commitment to participate" in the program.

The program's namesake, John McLendon, graduated from Kansas in 1937. He considered the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, as a mentor.

His coaching career included stops at Kentucky State, North Carolina Central, Hampton, Tennessee State, Cleveland State and the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association.

McLendon also became the first Black coach at a predominantly white university.

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