The policy was adopted by NFL owners during their annual meeting on March 28 and requires all 32 NFL teams to hire an offensive assistant coach who is “a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority,” regardless of whether or not the team already has a coach who satisfies those requirements among their staff.
It is unclear exactly when the policy goes into effect.
According to the NFL, the individual hired will “receive a one-year contract and work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience.”
Teams will receive funding toward the coach’s salary for up to two years from a league-wide fund.
“In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds. We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career, providing pipeline depth and furthering developing the diverse offensive pipeline,” the updated NFL policy reads.
The policy adopted Monday is an adjustment to the Rooney Rule adopted by the National Football League in 2003 which requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation vacancies.
That rule was adopted based on recommendations by the league’s Workplace Diversity Committee in an attempt to “develop a deep, sustainable talent pool at all levels of the organization” and “increase the number of minorities hired in head coach, general manager, and executive positions,” according to the NFL.
The Rooney Rule has regularly been updated and expanded since it went into effect.
However, there were just five minority head coaches in the NFL last season: Ron Rivera, Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, David Culler, and Robert Saleh.
Over 60 percent of the NFL players in 2021 identified as non-white, according to Market Watch, citing data from Statista.
In February, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit in federal court against the NFL and three football teams accusing them of discrimination after he was fired as head coach at the end of the season.
“However, well-intentioned or not, what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working,” Flores said in a legal complaint.
Elsewhere on Monday, the NFL announced a number of other policy changes, which included ownership diversity, to encourage and attract a diverse range of prospective ownership groups.
“Accordingly, when evaluating a prospective ownership group of a member club pursuant to League policies, the membership will regard it as a positive and meaningful factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club,” the policy reads.
Officials also announced a Diversity Advisory Committee which is being set up to examine how diverse hiring practices are among the league and its teams.
Outside experts on the committee include former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith and former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, as well as Pamela Carlton, the founder and president of Springboard, ESPN reported.