Campus News

UK Coach John Calipari Partners With McLendon Foundation to Help Launch McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative

CLEVELAND, OH. (July 14, 2020)  University of Kentucky Head Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari, along with Harvard University Head Coach Tommy Amaker, and 35 other collegiate head coaches and the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation (McLendon Foundation) announced a partnership to help launch the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative (Minority Leadership Initiative or MLI). This coach-driven initiative will provide minorities a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network, and instilling the values of John McLendon: integrity, education, leadership and mentorship. Participants in the initiative will be known as MLI Future Leaders. Learn more about John McLendon here.

Coach Calipari, as a leading ambassador for the MLI, is funding five MLI Future Leaders each year for six years, and the University of Kentucky Athletics Department plans to be a part of the MLI starting with the 2020-21 athletics season.

“It was really important for me to take a step back these past few weeks and listen. Now it’s time to take action,” Calipari said. “The MLI is about access and opportunity: real-world experience and networking platforms designed to elevate talented young women and men of color who have previously been ignored by a system that lacks diversity and inclusion. For this work, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate vehicle than the McLendon Foundation. I’m excited about where we’re headed and feel this is a great first step toward affecting measurable change in our corner of the world.”

“The McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative is a huge step in the right direction for enhancing the pipeline within our industry,” said Andrea Williams, chief operating officer at the College Football Playoff (CFP) and McLendon Foundation president. “There are many qualified minority individuals who are prepared to make their mark and begin their careers in college athletics, and this program, jumpstarted by Coach Calipari, is a great foundation to build on.” The McLendon Foundation will be assisting in the solicitation of collegiate coaches, administrators and corporations to build this program and provide opportunities within athletics departments at all levels, with the ultimate goal of expanding and enhancing the pipeline for minorities interested in pursuing careers in athletics administration. As an added benefit, the Joel Cornette Foundation will assist the Future Leaders with corporate mentorship, development and job placement.

To augment his support of the McLendon Leadership Initiative, Calipari is also seeking matching funds from private donors, corporate supporters and other partners to support other universities that wish to participate in the program.

“I am pleased that the University of Kentucky Athletics Department has joined me in the initiative, and I hope that other college coaches and schools will join in this great cause,” Calipari said. “College athletics will be the focus of the MLI, but if the initiative can make a broader impact across all levels of athletics and in other industries to help build a path of opportunity for our minority leaders of tomorrow, I’m all for that.”

More information regarding the MLI, including a pre-application for interested and qualified individuals, can be found at In conjunction with this announcement, the McLendon Foundation is unveiling a newly designed website to showcase the efforts of the foundation, highlighted by its mission to empower and develop minorities who aspire to be principled leaders in athletics administration by providing educational resources and access to a lifelong community of mentors.

About the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation

The John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded and administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics that provides educational opportunities and serves as a vehicle for networking, information and advocacy on behalf of the profession. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded 123 students with scholarships in the amount of $1,245,000.

About the Calipari Foundation In 2012, John and Ellen Calipari formed the Calipari Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide for the physical, educational, leadership and developmental needs of people and communities, while encouraging and equipping others to do the same.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.