Raiders & UNLV Team on Academy for Minority Coaches, GM Candidates

    • The Al Davis-Eddie Robinson Leadership Academy could be running in less than a year.
    • Raiders owner Mark Davis laments the number of minority candidates available for NFL jobs.

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The Las Vegas Raiders and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas are teaming up to build an academy to develop minority coaching and general manager candidates in the NFL, The Athletic reported.

It will be named the Al Davis-Eddie Robinson Leadership Academy, and the hope is to have it built and running in “less than a year.” Robinson was the head football coach at Grambling State University, a historically Black university in Grambling, La., and sent over 200 players to the NFL. Davis, the former Raiders owner, hired Art Shell in 1989 — the first Black head coach in modern NFL history. 

While the NFL has the Rooney Rule, which requires teams and the league office to interview minority candidates for open positions, Raiders owner Mark Davis said it isn’t doing enough.

“There’s not a big pool,” Davis told The Athletic. “The only name that ever comes up is [Chiefs offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy. We want to create a pool of qualified individuals that have not just gone through the weekend seminars that are going on now, but something more intensive.”

Raiders senior advisor Marcel Reece added: “We are going to be building up minority coaching prospects and current coaches to expand the pool of available coaches and leaders in the NFL, the NCAA and the community.” 

The league does also have the Fritz-Pollard Alliance — an organization of scouts, coaches, and front office personnel who provide resources to and about minority candidates — and the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, which pairs candidates with offseason and training camp coaching positions. 

The recently-launched NFL Alumni Academy at the Pro Football Hall of Fame campus also has the Football Diversity Development Program with the goal of advancing minority former NFL players that are transitioning to coaching and other front office positions. 

The Leadership Academy might include a four-to-six week program in the offseason for people who want to become NFL coaches, general managers or team presidents, according to The Athletic. Davis said that the GM program could include learning how to work with scouts and negotiate contracts, and conclude with mock interviews. 

Attendees could also include current NFL players with front office or coaching aspirations.

The Raiders tapped UNLV to help with the front office and business school aspects of the program. 

“I know that we could bring the other piece of it that would give it a lot of credibility, and that’s the academic-theoretical piece of it,” UNLV President Dr. Keith Whitfield, the first Black president in the school’s history, told The Athletic. “With all the connections and relationships that the Raiders have, they’re going to bring the practical piece so it’s going to be a wonderful marriage.”