A new study by scholars at the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University shows the dismal record of hiring Black head coaches in the National Football League — a league in which three-quarters of the players are Black.
In 2003, the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule, named after the late Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney Rule requires NFL franchises to interview minority candidates for senior football operations and head coaching positions.
But the current research shows that the Rooney Rule has made little or no impact on the number of Black coaches in the league. There are currently three Black head coaches in the NFL: the newly hired David Culley of the Houston Texans, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, and the Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores. That’s the same number of Black head coaches as when the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule in 2003.
The data shows that of the 115 head coaching hires in that time period since the Rooney Rule was enacted, 92 were White men. There were three seasons when no head coaches of color were hired.
This past January, one Black man, one Arab-American man, and five White men were hired for the seven open head coach positions. “By any standard, the hiring this season in the NFL has been abysmal,” said Ken Shropshire, the Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport and the CEO of the Global Sport Institute.
Professor Shropshire is a graduate of Stanford University, where he majored in economics. He holds a law degree from Columbia University.