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NFL demands teams hire women or minorities as coaches next season

The league has also stated that it would look at the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds when evaluating prospective ownership groups.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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At the National Football League’s annual owners meeting, the league issued new diversity and inclusion requirements for its 32 teams ahead of the upcoming 2022 season, including requiring these teams to hire a "female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority" as an offensive assistant coach.

According to NPR, the league announced that prospective candidates must have at least three years of collegiate or professional experience in football coaching. Those selected will receive a one-year contract with salary and benefits.

"For the roles, the NFL will reimburse teams up to $200,000 in 2022 and $205,000 in 2023 from a league fund for coaches," NPR reported.

"In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds," the NFL said. "We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career, providing pipeline depth and furthering developing the diverse offensive pipeline."

Between 2020 and 2021, the percentage of people of color holding coaching position reportedly increased from 35 percent to 39 percent, according to league data.

During that time span, the number of minority general managers increased from five to seven, the number of minority assistant general managers increased from here to six, and the number of minority defensive coordinators went from 13 to 15.

"While the increases noted above is a positive step, our diversity numbers are stagnant in the head coach and special teams coordinator roles and have slightly declined in the offensive coordinator role," the league statement said.

In addition to new hiring guidelines for offensive assistants, the NFL will also consider women for all qualifying rules under its Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule was adopted in 2003, and pertains to hiring minorities for coaching positions. The rule was changed in 2021, "requiring every team to interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions and at least one external minority candidate for a coordinator job," according to the NFL.

Previously, female candidates could be interviewed for senior positions like club president and senior executive.

Teams are currently submitting their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plans for the 2022 season, which include initiatives like "diverse recruiting," "DEI education and training," "hire head of DEI" and a "pay equity analysis," according to NPR.

The league has also stated that it would look at the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds when evaluating prospective ownership groups.

"While we have made important progress, we have more work ahead of us to ensure we are approaching DEI holistically — including the need to evaluate and adjust policies, incentives, and additional requirements to ensure effectiveness and result in better outcomes for women and people of color," the league said, according to NPR.

"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 32 clubs said in a joint statement.

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