Western Carolina and first-year Athletic Director Alex Gary announced Monday that Catamount Athletics has become one of the first signees of the Collegiate Coaching Diversity Pledge.

CCDP is an opt-in pledge among NCAA Division I athletic directors to include a diverse group of candidates in head coaching job opening finalist pools in men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football.

Spearheaded by Athletic Director U, the CCDP “reflects a commitment to ensure equal opportunity in the hiring of head coaches and to address the barriers that have prevented the full participation of underrepresented minority groups,” according to a news release from WCU.

Western is the first program in North Carolina to sign the pledge. Fellow Southern Conference member Furman as also among the first 30 schools to sign.

“Catamount Athletics is proud to be an early adopter of the Collegiate Coaching Diversity Pledge,” said Gary, who is Black and took over as athletic director earlier this year. “This commitment to including a diverse pool of final head coaching candidates in basketball and football aligns with our university’s goal to broaden our commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence by recruiting, retaining, and developing a diverse community. I want to thank Chancellor Kelli Brown for supporting WCU athletics’ early adoption of this commitment.”

The CCDP will be overseen by a group of independent higher education and sports leaders who comprise the Board of Advocates and the Board of Coaches. The Board of Advocates will work directly with the third-party clearinghouse designee – James Moore & Co. – to conduct a selective review of a representative sample of coaching searches to ensure compliance with the CCDP on an annual basis.

As defined by the CCDP, a diverse pool is a “group of finalists that includes at least one candidate from a diverse or traditional underrepresented background and at least one candidate from a non-diverse background.” The pledge also looks to address the barriers that have prevented the full participation of underrepresented minority groups in the collegiate coaching profession.

Athletic Director U is an online learning platform that is designed to provide news and action-oriented insights to empower college athletic directors community to allow for growth and learning for athletic administrators and coaches.

Names of athletic directors who have signed the pledge, as well as their compliance status, are available by visiting www.CollegiateDiversityPledge.com.