Congratulations are in order for John Calipari, one of eight coaches who will receive the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Guardians of the Game Pillar Awards, which represent the NABC’s core values of advocacy, education, inclusion and leadership, next month.
Calipari, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker, and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin will receive the award for inclusion for leading and launching the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative (MLI), a coach-driven initiative to provide minorities a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network, and instilling the values of John McLendon: integrity, education, leadership and mentorship.
Over the summer, Calipari spearheaded the MLI after watching the nation confront issues of social injustice and racial inequality. He recruited Amaker and Martin, both members of the NABC Committee on Racial Reconciliation, to join him to make change on college campuses and present opportunities for minorities. The initiative has drawn more than 80 coaches nationally from basketball, football and baseball across to serve as both MLI Ambassadors and be the primary source of funding. The MLI recently reached $1.5 million in funding. A total of 33 Future Leader opportunities have been filled at 23 institutions and organizations less than a year after the program was launched. Additional opportunities will be available this spring as the MLI kicks off its second cohort. The MLI has generated almost 700 applicants to date.
The MLI recently announced that Ro Rhodes, who is serving in the UK Athletics marketing department, is the first recipient of a Future Leader opportunity to be hired following time spent in an MLI-affiliated athletic department. Rhodes will be joining the Charlotte Hornets as an account manager with a focus on partnership activation.
Five other coaches will receive an NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award: Colorado head coach Tad Boyle for advocacy, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton for education, Michigan associate head coach Phil Martelli for leadership, and Saint Francis University head coach Rob Krimmel, and Georgia Tech assistant coach Eric Reveno for service. The coaches will be honored April 2 during the NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show, which will be conducted on a virtual platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be broadcast live April 2 on Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.