It started as a discussion among several Big East assistant men’s basketball coaches. Monday, they announced something more formal, the formation of a group called Coaches For Action, a coalition of 21 Big East assistants who “share in the difficult realities of people of color.”
The idea sprung up from conversations between a few coaches, including Villanova assistant Kyle Neptune and Marquette assistant Dwayne Killings, a former Temple assistant. That evolved into a Zoom call among the 21 assistants who formed the group.
“I think all of us, everyone in the country, was moved by the recent events,” Neptune said. “We were moved to do something, not just be the type of people who say something needs to be done and not be doing anything.”
One immediate action, in addition to initiating discussions about voting awareness, was to engage last week with the Big East hierarchy about having Black Lives Matter patches worn on every conference team’s home and away jerseys at all men’s basketball games. That was “warmly received,” Killings said. Neptune said the idea received full support from Villanova head coach Jay Wright and athletic director Mark Jackson.
“To be honest, we wanted to give our players a voice as well,” said Connecticut assistant Kimani Young, who was in those initial talks with Killings and Neptune and Providence assistant Ivan Thomas. “We all share emotions of frustration, of disappointment, of confusion. Wearing a patch gives a sense of not just standing on the sidelines.”
These assistants, who see themselves as part of the future leadership of their sport, said they’re working on establishing a foundation, looking to add actions that can be sustained over time. They’re open to assistant coaches from other conferences, and from women’s basketball, joining with them. But they wanted to get going within the league.
“We felt like it was our vision and our passion,” Killings said, noting that “we’re all operating in the shadow of John Thompson” as a Big East coach who put his words into action.