Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said the NFL will evaluate the hiring process and examine the Rooney Rule after the recent cycle saw the hiring of just one minority head coach.
"I think where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be," Rooney said in an NFL Network interview with Steve Wyche. "We need to take a step back and look at what's happening with our hiring processes. The first thing we'll do, as part of our diversity committee, is really review this past season's hiring cycle and make sure we understand what went on and talk to the people involved both on the owner's side, management's side as well as the people that were interviewed.
"The thing I think we have to look at is back when the Rooney Rule was passed and put in effect in 2003, there was a period there where we did see an increase in minority hiring at the head-coaching position. And I think over a period of time there were 10 or 12 minority coaches hired. Since then, that trend seems to reverse itself, particularly in the last few years. We need to study what's going on and understand better what's going on and really decide how we improve the situation."
Rooney's remarks come a day after the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization that works with the NFL to champion diversity, released a scathing reaction to the recent coaching hires, saying the NFL's "abysmal record of hiring people of color in high-ranking levels of NFL management" is the result of a "flawed system" that must be changed. Ron Rivera, recently named the Washington Redskins coach, was the lone diverse candidate to fill a head coach vacancy.
The rule, named for the late Dan Rooney, Art II's father, was initially adopted in 2003, and it required teams to interview at least one diverse candidate for any head-coaching vacancy. The rule was expanded in 2009 to include general manager and other front office positions. A year ago, the league updated the rule in an attempt to increase its effectiveness. New provisions added included requiring teams to interview at least one diverse candidate from the league's Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club.
Rooney didn't rule out the possibility of adding more updates this year, including expanding the rule to the coordinator level or increasing the number of required minority interviews.
"I think, in general, when you look at this year's process, and like I said, we're going sit down and look at it early," he said. "As it appears right now, there just weren't very many minorities in the process at all this year. And I'm not sure why that is. It doesn't need to be that way. We have about one-third of the coaches in the National Football League are from the minority communities. That's really not a bad pipeline.
"And so, the question is, why aren't more of those people getting interviews? Why aren't more of those people advancing through the process? Like I said, there are a lot of pieces to it that we have to look at. We have a lot of work to do that."