Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced a partnership with Black Coaches United (BCU), a group of minority basketball coaches advocating for increased opportunities in and outside the game. BCU will receive support from Dick’s to provide training, mentoring and advocacy programs for coaches. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Members of BCU include Harvard men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker, Marquette head coach Shaka Smart and Washington Wizards’ vice president of player engagement John Thompson lll.
Dick’s Sporting Goods and BCU connected through Harvard’s Amaker, who told the company about the organization he created to help black coaches access career opportunities while speaking out against racism and inequality. BCU made headlines last summer as it pushed for more voting access on college campuses, and Amaker’s move to create to programs for male and female basketball coaches caught Dick’s attention.
“Honestly, that got us really excited and sealed the deal in many ways,” Mark Rooks, Dick’s vice president of community and sports matter marketing, said in an interview. “This wasn’t just an organization about sports, it wasn’t an organization that was purely about diversity and inclusion, but it was surely an organization that was squarely focused on making sure that there were great opportunities out there for both male and female black coaches in the sport of basketball.”
Rooks said panel discussions, coaching clinics and education resources for rising coaches are in the works, though nothing is set in stone yet. Nonetheless, BCU’s Paul Hewitt, the organization’s executive director, is grateful.
“We’re just getting off the ground but to have an organization like Dick’s Sporting Goods to help us and get behind us, it does an awful lot to give us credibility,” Hewitt said in an interview. “They are going to help us financially but they are also going to help us use their name. Our partnership is one where we can bring them in on different events and programs to help young coaches and young people in a lot of different ways.”
Before this deal, Dick’s Sporting Good’s invested $12.5 million into the Black Economic Development Fund, managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC is a black-led financial institution that invests in communities, targeting real estate and black-owned businesses. “If you look at all of our efforts across brown and black communities,” Rooks said, “I think ultimately what we want to do is show that we are true advocates and supporters of the communities in which we work.”