‘Rooney Rule’ Paves way for Black Coaches

League sees increase in number of minority head positions since 2002

Associated Press
Aug. 18, 2006 12:00 AM

ORLANDO – The NFL’s rule that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for each head coaching vacancy is the reason there are a record seven Black head coaches, six more than 16 years ago, the author of several sports diversity studies said Thursday.

The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport credited the league’s “Rooney Rule,” adopted in late 2002, for the improvement.

“It’s been really fast-tracked in a big-time way,” study author Richard Lapchick said. “I’ve always felt the commissioner (Paul Tagliabue) had high on his priority list to improve the record for diversity, but until then he just didn’t have the leverage.”

The number of Black general managers also increased from two in 2003 to a record five at the beginning of this season after the Houston Texans hired Rick Smith.

Others at the position, not always called general manager but with equivalent duties, are the Cardinals Vice President of Football Operations Rod Graves,Baltimore Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome, Martin Mayhew with the Detroit Lions and James Harris, vice president of player personnel with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There were never more than four minority head coaches throughout the 1990s.

Current Black head coaches are: Dennis Green at Arizona, Romeo Crennel at Cleveland, Lovie Smith at Chicago, Marvin Lewis at Cincinnati, Herman Edwards at Kansas City, Tony Dungy at Indianapolis and Art Shell, recently rehired by the Oakland Raiders.

Those changes helped the NFL earn an overall B-plus from a B last year in Lapchick’s report card on race.

“Having talented people from diverse backgrounds has been and will continue to be a priority for our league,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

However, the report noted the NFL – and other pro men’s sports, with the exception of basketball – continued to lag in hiring women. The report card did not specifically issue a grade for gender because researchers were missing information from the NFL head office, Lapchick said, but it likely wouldn’t have improved much over last year’s D-plus.

The NFL did have a female president/CEO – Amy Trask of the Oakland Raiders – which is a rarity across pro sports, Lapchick said.

~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on August 21, 2006.

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