Digging Deeper: Exploring the Relationship of the Rooney Rule and Coaching Diversity in the NFL
48 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2019
Date Written: April 17, 2019
This paper analyzes the relationship between the Rooney Rule and coaching diversity in the National Football League (NFL). The Rooney Rule is a policy implemented in 2003 by the NFL to address long-standing concerns over minority representation among coaches. The Rooney Rule stipulates that for every head-coaching vacancy, at least one minority candidate must be interviewed for the position. In this paper, I provide input to the research question: To what extent has the Rooney Rule improved minority representation among high-level NFL coaches? The NFL claims the Rooney Rule to be a policy success. However, existing research on the impact of the Rooney Rule suggests mixed findings. Some publications claim that performance, not race, is the primary driver for selecting coaching candidates for high-level positions. Other publications attribute all-time highs in minority Head Coaching hires almost directly to the Rooney Rule. To better understand the Rooney Rule’s effectiveness, I conducted comparisons of minority hiring rates across two different time periods for the following three topics: the comparability of diversity improvements to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Major League Baseball (MLB), the disparities of racial coaching distribution by team, and the difference of hiring rates of Coordinators among white and minority Head Coaches. Informed by my research findings and discussions in existing literature, my ultimate policy recommendation for increasing diversity within the coaching ranks is to mandate expansion of the Rooney Rule to include Coordinator-level coaching positions, such that minorities are better positioned to become future Head Coaches.
Keywords: NFL, National Football League, Rooney Rule, Diversity, Race, Football, Sports
JEL Classification: J18, Z28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation