The NFL received its fourth consecutive A grade for its racial hiring practices amid concerns over a significant drop in minority head coaches this season.
The league also drew a C+ for gender hiring practices in the annual report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport released Tuesday.
Overall, the total number of women and people of color at or above the vice president level in the NFL increased by 11 percent. The league received an overall grade of B.
Richard Lapchick, the main author, said the league continues to receive high grades because of what he sees as a continued emphasis on diversity from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff.
However, the number of coaches of color in the NFL has unexpectedly fallen from a league-high eight in 2011 to four this season. The report also expressed concern that of the eight NFL coaching vacancies this offseason, none was filled by minority candidates.
Lapchick believes the "Rooney Rule" -- a mechanism to assure that teams interview at least one minority for their head coaching vacancies -- still is working. But he said perhaps more can be done.
Lapchick points to an initiative taken by college football -- gathering minority assistant coaches and athletic directors at conferences in an effort to introduce the ADs to potential head coaching candidates.
"If the NFL does something like that at the annual meetings it might help," Lapchick said.
In 2011, the NFL launched the Women's Interactive Network to help accelerate career advancement for women in the NFL. It was one of the several programs designed by the league to foster greater diversity.
The NFL also received an A+ for gender diversity initiatives.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press