The Heartbeat of the Huddle: Empowering Minority Coaches

Under Armour and the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches make strides in diversifying the sidelines.
Mike Locksley, NCMFC Founder and University of Maryland Head Football Coach

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are foundational to every industry. Yet these terms are almost exclusively used in corporate offices and boardrooms. While private businesses appoint board members with diverse backgrounds and create action plans, the sports world is being left in the dust. Under Armour and the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches (NCMFC) are working to bring these tenets of fairness to the locker rooms and sidelines of America’s favorite football teams. 


With fewer opportunities and tighter timelines for success, minority coaches are overlooked and underutilized. Over 70% of players in the NFL belong to a minority community, but in 2021 only 15% of coaches did. This disparity in representation between the field and the sidelines isn’t just harmful to the coaches of today but the next generation as well.


That’s why Under Armour and NCMFC have established a five-year partnership with a $1.5M commitment backing it in order to create lasting change. Since the combined effort began in 2021, 55% of schools with open positions engaged with NCMFC and three NCMFC member coaches received head coaching positions.

“At Under Armour, we always strive to partner with organizations that are like-minded, that believe in and bring to life our shared values. We find it absolutely necessary to support the Coalition and to ensure that there is equity in everything we do, especially within sport. We want to ensure that the best coaches have the same opportunities to achieve their goals and lead the next generation of athletes – both on and off the field.”

Sean Eggert, Under Armour SVP of Global Sports Marketing

After a year of partnership, it became clear that the Coalition Academy is a fundamental resource for the next generation of coaches and needed to expand alongside the significant need for diversity. With only 131 FBS head coaching jobs in existence, the opportunity to help level the playing field for minority coaches does not come about often, but when it does, the NCMFC’s goal is to increase minority hires by expanding its engagement with FBS programs from 55% to 75%.


The Coalition Academy is a year-long program that pairs 12 college coaches with 12 athletic directors to offer mentorship, networking, and advocacy. Each athletic director works with the coach over the course of a year to help them keep a pulse on the job market, introduce them to potential decision makers, and provide access to the limited resources that will foster their career aspirations at the highest levels of football coaching.


The ultimate goal is to increase equity in sport. It’s an ambitious quest, but an incredibly important one that builds on UA and NCMFC’s shared values, years of work, and current initiatives. Under Armour’s long-term Access to Sport commitment applies the same dedication to players, seeking to break down barriers and create opportunities for millions of youth to engage in sports by 2030.


Under Armour’s support has allowed NCMFC to double its staffing, working even harder toward its mission of preparing, promoting, and producing minority football coaches. The partnership with UA has allowed the NCMFC to expand both the reach and impact of the Coalition Academy. In 2021, the NCMFC worked with 12 coaches in the Academy and now they’re working extensively with 30 coaches—12 from the current Academy, as well as the next wave of 18 minority coaches who will be future candidates.

“As an FBS head coach, I have a unique perspective on the head coach hiring process and am confident the Academy has become a valuable resource to our coaches as they embark on their professional advancement. But we need the resources to make the Academy the best it can be and Under Armour makes that possible. Most importantly, Under Armour’s partnership enhances our ability to expand the network of each coach in the Academy - who are all ultimately in the pursuit of leading a top college football program and molding the next generation of student-athletes.”

Mike Locksley, NCMFC Founder and University of Maryland Head Football Coach

With the NCMFC, Under Armour is working to create opportunities for minority football coaches of all levels to increase minority hires year over year, and increase engagement with the Coalition, ultimately bringing more diversity, equity, and inclusion to football.


Investing in the minority coaches of today and tomorrow not only propels the sports world into a new, more inclusive era but also shows future minority coaches and players that they can be represented on and off the field. The idea of an underdog isn’t reserved for movie protagonists and those who have beaten the odds—it’s about the heart and grit that it takes to change an institution and start a more equitable legacy.