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NFL forms new committee to review policies regarding diversity hiring; teams mandated to hire minority coach as offensive assistant

The NFL is putting together a committee to review its diversity hiring practices.

The league announced on Monday a new diversity advisory committee -- which includes business leaders, academics, and former Houston Texans GM Rick Smith -- to review league and club policies in light of ongoing concerns over a lack of diversity in hiring. NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Tom Pelissero first reported the news of the committee.

There are currently five minority head coaches in the league.

"Today, the National Football League announced the creation of the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee, following its pledge last month to retain outside experts to review the league's diversity policies and practices," the league said in a news release. "The six-member committee will lend its expert, external perspective on industry best practices and will evaluate league and club diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies and initiatives, including all hiring processes, policies and procedures, with a primary focus on senior-level coach and front office personnel positions.

"After completing this evaluation, the committee will provide comprehensive recommendations to the league office and club ownership for consideration."

In addition to Smith, the committee is comprised of:

  • Pamela Carlton, founder and president, Springboard
  • Peter Harvey, former N.J. Attorney General; partner, Patterson Belknap
  • Patricia Brown Holmes, managing partner, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila
  • Stefanie K. Johnson, associate professor, University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business
  • Don Thompson, CEO and founder, Cleveland Avenue, LLC, and former president and CEO, McDonald's Corporation.

"We've worked for years and made progress in many areas to ensure that staff and leaders in our office and at our clubs reflect the racial and gender makeup of America, but we have more work to do, particularly at the head coach and front-office level," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "This esteemed group's work will help us build a more inclusive league. We look forward to their recommendations -- and to continuing our conversations with other outside experts, community and civil rights leaders, Fritz Pollard Alliance and current and former players and coaches -- to make our efforts and those of the clubs more effective so that real and tangible results will be achieved."

Said Carlton: "I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with the NFL, a vitally important organization in the world of sports and in American culture, on such critical matters like DEI and its policies and practices related to hiring and retention. The other committee members and I look forward to completing a rigorous, independent analysis of how the NFL and its clubs approach diversity and inclusion to ensure that minority candidates have equitable opportunities at the highest levels."

Among the NFL's initiatives to enhance opportunities for minority coaching candidates, teams will now be required to hire a minority coach as an offensive assistant, NFL Network's Judy Battista reported Monday. The NFL is also looking at having teams invite staff members to league events, an idea Commanders coach Ron Rivera said he believes would help the cause since it would allow minority candidates to get acquainted with decision-makers in more relaxed settings, Battista added.

The 32 clubs released a joint statement Monday regarding their commitment to increasing diversity among ownership:

"The NFL member clubs support the important goal of increasing diversity among ownership. Accordingly, when evaluating a prospective ownership group of a member club pursuant to League policies, the membership will regard it as a positive and meaningful factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club."

The Pat Bowlen Trust announced on Feb. 1 that it is in the "beginning of a sale process" for the Denver Broncos franchise.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell noted during Super Bowl week that the league planned to consult outside experts on its hiring policies.

Other diversity, equity and inclusion-related changes are expected before the January 2023 hiring cycle.

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