Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II is hoping the NFL will revisit the Rooney Rule after only one minority candidate was hired as a head coach this offseason.
The Rooney Rule, established in 2003, mandates that at least one minority candidate is interviewed for every head coaching vacancy. The rule was named after Art's father, Dan Rooney, who served as its leading advocate.
"I’m not going to sit here and accuse anyone of racism, but the facts are what they are," Art told The Athletic's Tim Graham. "We have to look at the opportunities that were given to minorities this latest round and see what can be done about it."
New Miami Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores, was the sole diverse hire out of eight vacancies in the league's most recent hiring cycle. The 2018 cycle wasn't much better, as Steve Wilks was the one minority candidate appointed among seven openings. There are currently four minority head coaches in the NFL, the fewest since 2002.
Since most head coaches are promoted from coordinator positions, the Steelers owner broached the possibility of instilling interview regulations for those vacancies.
"I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at it, but I would say the real question in my mind is how do we make sure there are people coming into the pipeline that have the opportunity to move up into these positions," Rooney said.
While nearly one-third of defensive coordinators are minorities, there are currently only seven diverse hires for 64 possible positions between offensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches. Rooney believes a ground-level approach may be the best way to address the disparity among the more prominent roles.
"The entry-level positions are important," he said. "That’s where it starts, and if we’re not getting diverse candidates into the pool at that point, then you’re not going to get them at the higher level eventually."