Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard has joined a movement started by Kentucky’s head coach John Calipari and Harvard’s Tommy Amaker known as the McLendon Foundation Minority Leadership Initiative.
The idea originated on a podcast called Coffee with Cal which had an original purpose of raising funds for COVID-19 relief. Coach Calipari took a hiatus from the podcast amid social unrest in our country after the death of George Floyd.
The purpose of the show quickly shifted to Calipari “wanting to be a part of the answer in any way (he) can.” The Wildcats’ head coach continued, “I can’t stand on the sideline while my players, my staff, their sons and daughters, our fans, and so many others as they live with fear and injustices.”
After Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker joined his show, the two created the McLendon Foundation Minority Leadership Initiative named after the Hall of Fame head coach John McLendon who was the first African American head coach of a predominantly white college at Cleveland State. McLendon is also known for being the head coach of North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and taking part in “the secret game” against Duke, which was the first time a black college shared the court against a predominantly white school.
“McLendon was a pioneer in our profession,” Calipari continued, “(He was) the first African American to coach at a predominantly white school, the first African American coach to coach professionally. And it’s through his foundation with his name is going to be a minority leadership initiative.”
So what exactly will this initiative do? Here is the foundation’s mission statement:
The McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative (MLI) provides access to and creates opportunity for meaningful employment experience for minority candidates known as MLI Future Leaders, toward enhancing their career options.
MLI hopes to “provide minorities a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network, and instilling the values of Jon McLendon: Integrity, Education, Leadership, and Mentorship.”
A part of this is helping minorities find roles in athletic departments and corporations across the country in where the foundation feels they are, “severely unrepresented”.
As a coach, Juwan Howard’s role in all of this is to “serve as an ambassador that (will) promote and be the point of funding for the program and act as (a) mentor.”
They also hope this initiative will push athletic directors to widen their horizons when filling a vacant position.
Howard joins the likes of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, Gonzaga’s Mike Few, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self and several others in the push to find more employment for minorities at the collegiate level and beyond.
Learn more by following this link to their website.