NFL Extends Rooney Rule To Encourage Hiring of Minorities in Front Offices

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The NFL has extended its minority interviewing rule to include openings for general manager jobs and equivalent front-office positions, in addition to head coaching vacancies.

The league made the announcement yesterday. The move had been expected after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a set of owners' meetings last month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that he planned to expand the rule.

Under the new rule, any team seeking to hire a senior football operations official for its front office must interview at least one minority candidate.

"The discussion at the league meeting identified the strong reasons for taking this step, which in large part simply confirms a recommended practice that clubs have voluntarily embraced," Goodell said in a written statement released by the NFL. "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."

The rule previously had required each club with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate.

That provision widely is known as the Rooney Rule after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, the chairman of the league's workplace diversity committee, and was credited by many observers for the recent gains in diversity the league has made in its head coaching ranks.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group formed to promote diversity in hiring at all levels in the NFL, had pressed in recent years for the league to extend its minority interviewing requirement to key front-office jobs. But NFL officials until recently had resisted making that move, instead asking teams to follow the guideline voluntarily.

The league indicated the minority interviewing rule will not apply to a case in which a team's top front-office job is held or filled by the franchise's owner or a member of his or her family, or in a case in which a team has an existing contractual obligation to promote a member of its front-office staff.

According to the league, Goodell also urged teams to interview a diverse slate of candidates for other vacant front-office jobs.

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