Rooney Rule

[roo-nee rool]

What does Rooney Rule mean?


The Rooney Rule is a policy in the NFL that requires a team to interview at least one minority candidate for a head-coaching job, general manager position, or other front-office position.

Examples of Rooney Rule


Examples of Rooney Rule

Goldman Sachs Implements Its Own ‘Rooney Rule’ in Diversity Push

Liz Hoffman, Wall Street Journal (Headline), March, 2019
I think that’s what the Rooney Rule speaks to, equality within the opportunity ... We’ll continue to fight for that, not only in terms of head coaching searches, but maybe other areas of the profession as well.
Mike Tomlin quoted by Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April ,2019
Business Insider

Where does Rooney Rule come from?

Getty Images

In 2002, attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri released a report that detailed unfair hiring and firing practices regarding black coaches in the National Football League (NFL). In response on October 31, 2002, Paul Tagliabue, then Commissioner of the NFL, announced the creation of a diversity committee to investigate the NFL’s hiring policies.

The committee was first headed by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Among other things, he pushed for a rule that NFL teams must interview at least one ethnic minority candidate when interviewing head coaches. This rule was referred to by reporters and players as the Rooney Rule, after Dan Rooney; the NFL came to call it so, as well.

Dan Rooney (Wikipedia)

From the start, the NFL enforced the Rooney Rule, which went into effect in 2003. That year, the NFL fined Detroit Lions’ president Matt Millen $200,000 after he failed to adhere to the rule when hiring a head coach in 2003.

Over time, the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule to include other front-office positions, such as General Manager. The Rooney Rule was also extended to include female candidates in NFL executive hires in 2016.

Since created, the Rooney Rule has led to greater diversity in the NFL. However, many, including Dan Rooney’s son Art Rooney II, note that the NFL still has a long way to go to achieve equality and equity.

Who uses Rooney Rule?

As of 2019, the Rooney Rule remains a part of NFL policy, although many have criticized how effectively NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has enforced it and whether the rule goes far enough.

Nevertheless, the Rooney Rule has led to more diverse hiring practices in the NFL than prior to its implementation. Some argue that other sports should also adopt their own form of the Rooney Rule.

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