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NCAA football has no equivalent to Rooney Rule

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27 Sep 1997: Head coach Eddie Robinson of Grambling State during the Tigers 42-7 loss to the Hampton Pirates at the Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport
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By Bob Cohn

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:10 p.m.

At the start of this college football season, the list of head coaches at 125 FBS programs in the country included 15 who were minorities.

This figure is unacceptable, say those who believe the NCAA needs a policy similar to the NFL's Rooney Rule, creating increased opportunities for minority coaching candidates.

“I've been calling for years to implement what I call the Eddie Robinson Rule, and there's been tremendous resistance,” Richard Lapchick said, citing the legendary former Grambling coach.

“The NCAA says they can't dictate policy, but they can,” said Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

In a statement on its website, the NCAA said it cannot have anything like the Rooney Rule, but in 2008, Division I athletic directors adopted voluntary hiring guidelines “similar” to the rule.

“The NCAA is a nonprofit and voluntary member association which can't influence individual campus hiring practices or policies,” Emily James, an organization spokesperson, wrote in an email in response to questions from the Tribune-Review.

She added that “seeking out diversity is a core value of the NCAA” and that the NCAA “can and does urge better and more open hiring processes to include underrepresented applicants in the final candidate pools. ... The issue doesn't always rest solely with interviewing but with hiring.”

Lapchick said the NCAA has the power to create a similar rule, using the threat of withholding scholarships as an inducement.

“They said they couldn't impose penalties for (low) graduation rates, and of course they finally did that with the (Academic Progress Rate),” Lapchick said. “We feel they could do the same thing by failing to act appropriately with the interview process.

“It's a win-win situation. There is so much bad press about the NCAA at this point. To do something that would have a positive connotation would be really good for them.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BCohn_Trib.




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