Smith Selected to Attend NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy


Catawba College assistant football coach, Ahmaad Smith, is one of 34 NCAA football coaches selected to attend the 2017 NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy on Feb. 9-12 in Tampa, Florida.  A committee composed of coaches and administrators from the Association membership selected 25 participants from the NCAA. The NFL selected 30 participants, many also current NCAA coaches, through an internal process.

Smith joined the Catawba football staff prior to the 2015 season.  He coaches the defensive backs for the Catawba Indians.  During his two seasons, Catawba has placed a pair of defensive backs on the all-conference teams and cornerback Case Woodard was an all-region selection each year.

The academy was developed in 2011 as a collaborative effort between NCAA leadership development and NFL Player Engagement to boost diversity in the college game. The invitees from NCAA member schools are coaches who have fewer than eight years of college coaching experience. The college coaches will learn and network with NCAA athletics administrators, NCAA national office staff, current and former NFL players, NFL directors of player personnel and NFL Player Engagement staff.

“Continuing the education of administrators and coaches can provide a better, more complete experience for athletes, whether on campus or in the professional arena,” said Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer. “The partnership with the National Football League has a positive impact on the sport and those charged with developing the game and its participants. The exposure of aspiring coaches to a collection of the top minds in football — specifically on important topics such as financial literacy and mental health to the locker-room culture — is crucial now and in the future.”

The keynote speakers and panelists for the 2017 academy include NCAA athletics directors, current and former NCAA and NFL head coaches, and football industry experts.

At the academy, coaches are trained in a variety of areas that encourage effective coaching and improve student-athlete well-being at both the college and professional levels. The coaches gain knowledge from a variety of workshops and interactive discussion sessions. Topical education and conversation during the academy can include effective communication with campus and community constituents; the importance of building a culture focused on the overall success of athletes, both on and off the field; budget management of a football program; and coaching strategies and philosophies. The group will grow a professional network of individuals who include the other participants, NCAA and NFL staff, and other key resources in the sport.

The academy is one of three programs NCAA leadership development tailors to specific points in a football coach’s career. The American Football Coaches Association/NCAA 30 Under 30 Coaches Leadership Institute is a professional development and networking opportunity offered in January at the AFCA Convention to select individuals who have shown a passion for the college football coaching profession. In June, the NCAA Champion Forum will kick off a unique, yearlong professional development opportunity for current coordinators and assistant and associate coaches to help them grasp a realistic view of a head football coach’s role and the preparation required to build a successful program.

NCAA leadership development, located in Indianapolis, coordinates and facilitates education and training for student-athletes, coaches and athletics administrators. The staff annually hosts programs at little or no cost to members, using expert curriculum designed to enhance the well-being and personal development of college athletes. The staff also provides ongoing education and topical training to athletics professionals who identify and serve student-athlete needs.

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