NFL memo says it plans 2-day diversity networking seminar for prospective head coaches, GMs

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.

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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.