NFL makes push for diversity with Career Development Symposium

05/07/2013 1:44 AM ET
By Matt Hughes

The NFL is pushing for diversity at this week's Career Development Symposium, which offers would-be minority coaches and team executives networking opportunities.(AP)
The NFL is pushing for diversity at this week's Career Development Symposium.

Targeting would-be minority coaches and team executives, the Development Symposium will offer seminars and networking opportunities with owners, club presidents, coaches, general managers and league executives. The Development Symposium is being relaunched after previously running from 1998 to 2008 and is being held this week at the Wharton School of Business on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Eight new head coaches have been hired going into the 2013 season -- none of which is African-American. The Development Symposium is intended, in part, to help to help stem the tide. At least 21 former players are scheduled to attend as the NFL is encouraging players to consider a career in football as a viable option after hanging up their helmet and pads.

"Like any successful business, we realized that it's important to create our own pipeline of talent," Roger Gulliver, the NFL's chief human resources officer, said Monday. "The symposium gives us a unique opportunity to create our pipeline of aspiring head coaches and general manager talent."

Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin are among the scheduled speakers at this week's event. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and six team owners will also attend.

One topic of discussion at the Development Symposium will no doubt be the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for vacant head coaching and senior management positions. Despite not hiring a minority head coach in 2013, Gulliver noted the NFL believes the Rooney Rule has been successful to date.

"When I look at the Rooney Rule, I think it is important to take the long view of it, and the Rooney Rule has been very successful the past 10 years in promoting diversity in our head coach and general manager ranks," he said. "As for head coaches, I believe there have been (13) diverse head coaches hired in the past 10 years of the Rooney Rule. That's compared to (seven) diverse head coaches hired in the previous 80 years prior to the rule. It's been very successful. You just have to look at the last decade and not just last year's hiring cycle."

Created in 2003, some NFL insiders are calling for the Rooney Rule to be expanded to the coordinator level to help position minority assistant coaches for future head coaching jobs. The NFL has not commented on the proposed rule change.

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