NC Central coach LeVelle Moton, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin backing minority hoops coaches

ByMyron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer ESPN logo
Thursday, May 30, 2024
LeVelle Moton, Mike Tomlin backing minority hoops coaches
"The Next Up" Conference connects up-and-coming Black and minority coaches with potential employers in the NCAA.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin have partnered to launch an initiative to help young minority men's and women's basketball coaches gain opportunities to advance their careers.

"The Next Up" conference aims to identify Black and minority coaches who could benefit from relationships with decision-makers and executives across the collegiate landscape. It will be held May 30-31 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Moton and Tomlin are longtime friends who brainstormed the idea over a decade ago at Steelers training camp as they wondered how they could help young Black coaches develop and secure opportunities.

Moton, who attends Steelers training camp every year, and Tomlin decided they had to act to leave their mark and help the next generation of Black and minority coaches.

"It's not only a moral obligation, but a social responsibility to leave the game and our vocation better than we found it," Tomlin said in a statement to ESPN.

Two years ago, 82% of all men's and women's basketball coaches at the Division I level were white, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida's annual report.

Moton said college basketball once had initiatives to help young Black and minority coaches, such as The Villa 7 conference that helped coaching prospects such as current Marquette coach Shaka Smart, but the proliferation of search firms has eliminated some of the organic networking opportunities for Black coaches on the rise.

He said "The Next Up" conference's goal is to offer support and guidance for the next generation of Black and minority coaches and help them navigate the obstacles he and Tomlin have faced in their careers. Moton said he hopes that through panel discussions, workshops and networking events, the conference will help more coaches get into the coaching pipeline and earn future opportunities.

"(Tomlin) and I were talking about our careers, trajectory and challenges," Moton said. "We noticed the landscape had changed because of the addition of search firms and hiring practices. Mike wanted to plant coaching seeds for trees that we'll never see grow. So 'Next Up' was born to connect and familiarize Black and minority coaches with presidents, athletic directors, search firms and potential employers."