The National Collegiate Athletic Association — the organization that UCCS Division II sports falls under — does not have any diversity rules in the hiring process for coaches. The matter has been controversial and some universities, a state and a conference have responded by making rules of their own.
The NCAA sent a statement to ESPN in 2020 detailing why the organization voted against a policy to implement diversity rules for the interviewing process.
“The NCAA is a voluntary association with public and private members who are subject to different state laws,” the statement said. “Thus, the NCAA cannot mandate the individual hiring practices of colleges and universities or campus employment practices. As a result, employment decisions are made at the individual campus level.”
In the statement, the NCAA also said that they applaud schools, conferences and states that have added employment rules for diversity.
All these rules originate from “The Rooney Rule,” an NFL rule which was the first rule a sports organization created to help combat racism in the hiring process for coaches.
Named after Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former chairman of the league’s diversity committee, it demands that teams interview at least one diverse candidate in their hiring process.
The rule was developed after Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green with the Minnesota Vikings were fired in 2002. Both firings were a surprise. Dungy was coming off another winning season and Green had suffered his first losing season in ten years.
The NFL had short-term success with the rule from 2003 to 2011 as the number of head coaches of color went up from one to eight. Since then, the number has dropped significantly as the league currently has two.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, even commented on what he considers a “double standard” in how teams treat Black head coaches. This was sparked by the recent firing of Brian Flores from the Miami Dolphins despite having back-to-back winning seasons in just his third year.
In response to the early success, Oregon implemented their own “Rooney Rule” in state legislature in 2009. The only difference is that its had long-term success. The state has hired and kept coaches of color at schools like the University of Oregon in football, indoor and outdoor track and cross country.
The West Coast Conference, a collegiate conference consisting of ten schools and affiliated with NCAA Division I, announced in 2020 the adoption of the “Russell Rule.” Named after WCC and NBA legend Bill Russel, it follows the same ideas as previous schools.
The University of Texas System institutions also adapted a version of the rule in 2016, proving that any university can adopt this rule on their own. There is no data on the success of the institution rule.
Diversity problems exist across the collegiate level for schools that have not implemented any rules.
The NCAA shares data on the percentage of minority coaches yearly. It shows that in DI Basketball, out of all head coaches from the 2007-08 through the 2019-2020 seasons, 34% were minorities and 66% were white.
The problems still exists even if you took the total seasons coached by minority and white coaches as a percentage of the total number of seasons coached as 78% of these seasons have been coached by white head coaches.
College men’s basketball is not the only sport that has a diversity problem. According to AP News, there are 20 minority coaches among 130 FBS schools in Division I football.
So, if the NCAA is unable to create their own “Rooney Rule,” then it’s up to universities like UCCS or the state of Colorado to not only implement their own but find one that works.