In an effort to address its problems with diversity in its coaching and front-office ranks, the NFL will hold a seminar for 64 prospective head-coaching and general manager candidates at its annual spring owners meeting later this month in Atlanta.
According to a memo obtained by ESPN, which was sent to NFL team owners, head coaches and GMs on April 8, the two-day meeting May 23-24 will feature networking opportunities for "diverse, prospective Club-nominated Head Coaching and General Manager prospects" with team owners and other high-ranking executives.
Each NFL team, the memo says, will nominate two participants -- "one from the coaching side and one from the player personnel side." The memo asks that those participants be "senior women and minority high-potential coach or player personnel" candidates. A source said the group of 64 will participate in sessions and programs designed to further their education on the business of football and discuss coaching techniques.
But the main goal of the program is to get minority candidates for head coach and GM openings face time with the league's highest-ranking decision-makers. The idea grew out of feedback the league's diversity committee received at the NFL scouting combine in March from candidates -- some who were successful and some who were not -- from the most recent coach/GM hiring cycle. Some of those candidates told the committee that one of the things that bothered them about the process was that the first time they ever met a team owner was when they went in to interview for the job.
The league's annual May meeting is different from the annual March meeting, in that it features a much smaller group -- mainly owners and team presidents, as opposed to the head coaches and GMs who also attend the March meeting. The hope is that exposure in a relaxed, small group setting will help the candidates and the decision-makers get to know one another better in advance of future hiring cycles.
The memo says the initiative "aims to provide senior women and minority high-potential coach or player personnel exposure to Owners across the League to develop direct connections. Conversely, providing Owners the ability to engage with new prospects in a natural and personal way without violating the Anti-Tampering rule policies."
At this writing, the sources familiar with the story said the final list of 64 participants had yet to be finalized.