NFL Bolsters Rule On Minority Hiring

June 17, 2009
The National Football League has announced an expansion of the "Rooney Rule" on minority hiring. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the rule, which requires NFL teams with head-coaching vacancies to interview one or more minority candidates, would be expanded to cover hiring of front-office personnel.

The Washington Post reported that the expanded rule would require teams seeking to fill front office positions to interview at least one minority candidate. In a statement, Goodell said, "The discussion at the league meeting identified the strong reason for taking this step, which in large part simply confirms a recommended practice that clubs have voluntarily embraced. The recommendation also recognizes that this process has worked well in the context of head coaches, and that clubs have deservedly received considerable positive recognition for their efforts in this respect."

An NFL committee, headed by Steelers President Dan Rooney (left with Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin), proposed the adoption of the rule on hiring head coaches in 2002 after the committee concluded that the league's hiring practices were discriminatory.

In December, ACS distributed an Issue Brief on the impact of the Rooney Rule.

Douglas C. Proxmire, a partner at Patton Boggs LLP, maintains in "Coaching Diversity: The Rooney Rule, Its Application, and Ideas for Expansion," that the rule produced some positive results, but that more work was needed to diversify hiring in the NFL. In the Issue Brief, Proxmire noted, "The limited scope of the Rooney Rule does not cover the hiring of front-office personnel or other coaching staff positions, such as coordinators. While there has been talk about expanding the Rooney Rule to cover additional vacancies, the NFL has yet to take that step."