Izzo joins other notable Division I coaches as ambassador for The McLendon Foundation


Tom Izzo/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Liam Jackson, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING- Tom Izzo has joined the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Juwan Howard, and several other major Division I head coaches in becoming an ambassador for the McLendon Foundation Minority Leadership Initiative (MLI). 

John McLendon, who the organization is named after, is credited with being the first African-American head coach at an American university. McLendon won three NAIA championships as the head man at Tennesee State and was named the NAIA Coach of the Year three times. McLendon was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a contributor in 1979 and for his coaching achievements in 2016.  

 The McLendon Foundation’s mission statement is “to empower and develop minorities who aspire to be principled leaders in athletics administration by providing educational resources and access to a life-long community of mentors.”  Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and Harvard men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker put this idea together in response to the increased emphasis on addressing various social inequality issues. 

In a recent press release, Calipari was quoted as saying that “I can’t stand on the sidelines while my players, my staff, their sons and daughters, our fans, and so many others live with fear and injustices.”

 Izzo has been increasingly vocal about issues of race relations in recent weeks. In a statement made via Michigan State Basketball’s Twitter account, he said that “the passage of time can create complacency. It becomes all too easy to return with what’s comfortable in life. We can’t allow that to happen.”  

 Izzo’s role as an ambassador with the MLI will include promoting the program as a whole and acting as a mentor to its participants who are hired. 

 The Minority Leadership Foundation is a part of The McLendon Foundation, which was started in 1999 to provide scholarships to minorities and to honor John McLendon. The McLendon Foundation is dedicated “to the educational advancement and cultivation of minority students.” Education, integrity, leadership, and mentorship are the core values of the foundation.