ACE Program Assisting Ethnic Minorities With Opportunities
When one becomes a coach, professional development is essential to improving your craft and evolving as a great coach. That development includes networking, mentorship, and learning new tactics to better serve your players. This is especially important for ethnic minority coaches. The ACE Program, standing for Achieving Coaching Excellence, has been in place for 14 years to assist in providing its participants with leadership development and networking opportunities as they aim to advance their career in coaching.
The goal of the ACE program is to increase the leadership skills of ethnic minority coaches so that they are better prepared for head coaching opportunities. According to the NCAA's 2014-2015 Race and Gender Demographics Report, 14.3 percent of men's collegiate basketball coaches and 12.1 percent of women's basketball collegiate coaches are of color. Those numbers for all three divisions combined and exclude coaches that are at HBCU's.
The 2016 installation of the ACE program for basketball coaches will be held on June 6-9 in Indianapolis, Indiana. During that time, 14 basketball coaches from around the country will gain knowledge from numerous presenters and learn first-hand what athletic administrators look for when hiring a head coach. Presenters will be fellow coaches, athletic directors, and search firm representatives, among others.
Several graduates of the ACE program have gone on to become head coaches. Many have acknowledged the opportunity to participate in the ACE program as an integral part in their ascension into the head coaching ranks. One of those coaches that attributed the program to her success was 2011 program participant Jenerrie Harris, Women's Head Basketball Coach at UMass Lowell.
"I love the ACE program," Harris said. "It gave me the opportunity to network with other young professionals in the sport that were inspired and hopeful. It's been great to grow with them in the profession. We wouldn't have come together as a group without the ACE program."
The ACE program's most recent graduate to enter the head coaching ranks is newly named University of Denver Head Coach, Rodney Billups. Billups, after six years as assistant coach at the University of Colorado, participated in the 2015 ACE program before being named head coach of his alma mater on March 14, 2016.