The NFL has an "ugly history" of not promoting people of color to lead professional football teams, said one of the panelists at the conference.
But the steps the NFL has taken, while not perfect, should be followed by college and university athletic programs, said Jeremi Duru, a law professor at Temple University, who argued for a "Rooney rule" for intercollegiate athletics. Duru was one of the panelists to discuss the opportunities for minorities to become athletic directors or head coaches at the intercollegiate level during the "Losing to Win" conference.
Duru, who has written extensively on employment discrimination in the sports industry, said the NFL has made good progress since implementing the so-called Rooney rule in 2002. The rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach and senior-level positions.
In the 60 years prior to the rule's adoption, there had been only one African-American coach and no general managers of NFL teams. In the years since, eight African-American coaches and five general managers have been hired.
"There have been shame interviews, and weakness that can be manipulated, but for what it's worth, it has been effective," Duru said.
The NCAA Division I has recommended that its member institutions follow similar procedures for interviewing minority candidates, and the number of minority head football coaches has risen, he said. The NCAA has long argued against a hard-and-fast Rooney rule, but it's time to act, he added.
Several states have already passed or are considering laws that would impose Rooney-like requirements on colleges and universities. Duru thinks such laws will pass constitutional muster: "There is no quota or mandate, just an interview." -- Kerry M. King