On Monday, the Indianapolis Colts announced the launch of the ‘Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellowship Program’ which will “afford diverse and talented football coaching candidates the opportunity to gain valuable experience as they progress in their careers”.
Specifically, per Colts.com:
“The program will provide the Colts with access to talented coaches while also fostering and expanding the team’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Qualified candidates will be evaluated and interviewed by a selection committee composed of Dungy, the Irsay family, General Manager Chris Ballard, Head Coach Frank Reich and other members of the Colts coaching staff and football operations team.”
“As a part of the program, the Colts will hire a Dungy Fellow for the offense and the defense.”
It’s obviously another positive step in the right direction for a Colts franchise that participates in a 32-team professional football league where nearly 70% of the NFL’s players are Black, but only currently has 5 minority head coaches (15.6%).
In the aftermath of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit, NFL franchises must pursue other methods to provide minority coaches (and front office personnel) more opportunities and means for promotion/elevation to prominent leadership positions—than just beyond the league’s so far ineffective Rooney Rule.
For what it’s worth, the Colts will continue to provide coaching opportunities through the NFL’s ‘Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship’ as well—“which provides coaches the opportunity to utilize training camps, offseason workout programs and minicamps to further their careers.” Newly hired Colts assistant linebackers coach Cato June previously participated in this league program.
Of course, clearly more still needs to be done league-wide—which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has recently acknowledged, but kudos to the Colts for this latest initiative to promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within the sport among potential coaching opportunities.