NFL expanding Rooney Rule to include women

NFL franchises must appoint a “diverse person” as an offensive assistant coach as part of new diversity guidance introduced by the league.

The new measures also include extending the ‘Rooney Rule’ to include female applicants.

According to the NFL, people of colour comprised 39% of all coaching positions in 2021 – up from 35% in 2020.

But it said opportunities for minority candidates in head coach and offensive coordinator roles are “disappointing”.

The Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003 to ensure at least one black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) candidate is interviewed for each head coach or general manager vacancy.

The new guidance, which stipulates the coach can be “a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority”, will be implemented from the start of the 2022 season in September as part of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s attempt to “build a more inclusive league”.

Around 70% of the league’s players are black but the head coaches are overwhelmingly white. Last month, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit accusing the NFL and its 32 teams of racial discrimination in hiring practices.

Of eight head coach positions to be filled this year, Mike McDaniel, at the Miami Dolphins, and Lovie Smith, at the Houston Texans, were the only candidates to qualify as diverse.

There are currently five minority head coaches in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, chairman of the NFL diversity, equity and inclusion committee, said the move was “recognition” of the trend that offensive coordinator positions offer a “stepping stone” to becoming a head coach.

The NFL will provide reimbursement towards the salary of the coach – who will receive a one-year contract – for up to two years.

An NFL diversity advisory committee, which includes former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith, will also provide guidance on a range of issues.

“We’ve worked for years and made progress in many areas to ensure that staff and leaders in our office and at our clubs reflect the racial and gender make-up of America, but we have more work to do,” Goodell said.

On the diversity advisory committee, he added: “This esteemed group’s work will help us build a more inclusive league.” (BBC)

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