Under Fire, NFL Revives Symposium to Spur Minority Hiring

Lovie Smith

(from USA Today, April 17, 2013)  After a long hiring cycle for head coaches and general managers, the NFL failed to produce a single hire of a minority candidate, but the league has decided to try something new.  They will announce today their plan for a three day career development symposium.  This is scheduled to take place May 6-8 at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.  The NFL came under an attack of criticism for their lack of minority hires and the symposium is an attempt to gain a more diverse group of future leaders.  Many minority coaches have become increasingly frustrated and are wondering if they will ever get a fair shot at a new job.  Two assistant coaches per club have been invited to participate in the program, which will include workshops and panel discussions.  The symposium was held annually for 11 years, but was cancelled after 2008.  The program has been brought back due to the regression in diverse hiring in the NFL.  The symposium was suggested by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which oversees minority hiring and helped establish the Rooney Rule.  This rule requires that at least one minority is interviewed for a head coaching position.  Despite this rule, minorities were shut out of top positions for just the second time since its institution.  NFL chief diversity officer, Robert Gulliver, stated, “The results were certainly not what we expected, but all of the teams complied with the rule.”  It was decided in league meetings last month that the symposium would have a reduced number of participants, but an increased participation of owners.  Speakers at the event will include Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and New York Giants co-owner John Mara.  Gulliver explained, “The way the program really works is to get insight from the owners, general managers, and coaches.  It will be helpful for aspiring candidates to get a sense of what teams are seeking, and that’s the key to making this program a success.”