Sports

Success and Shortfalls in Effort to Diversify N.F.L. Coaching

This Jan. 1, 2012 file photo shows New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, left, speaking with then-Miami Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles before the start of an NFL football game in Miami. The New York Jets are close to an agreement with Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to make him their head coach, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. Bowles told ESPN in a text that he was taking the job, but the people told The Associated Press that no agreement had been completed as of late Tuesday night, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
This Jan. 1, 2012 file photo shows New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, left, speaking with then-Miami Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles before the start of an NFL football game in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(New York Times) – Todd Bowles had at least six interviews for N.F.L. head coaching jobs over the past five years. After each interview and rejection, he called an adviser to report who had been present, what questions had been asked, how long the interview had lasted and how he had performed.

Mr. Bowles was operating under an N.F.L. diversity program that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate when searching for a new head coach and requires that those interviews be conducted in good faith and to the same standards as those for other candidates.

On Wednesday, when Mr. Bowles, 51, is introduced as the Jets’ coach, his long journey to the position will be the latest demonstration of the program, established under a regulation known as the Rooney Rule. The policy has been much admired, much emulated and much studied. Some, however, worry that it is merely tokenism in a league that is dominated by black players but has relatively few members of minority groups in leadership positions.

Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard University’s law school and the founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, embraces the rule. But he said that it had not corrected the wide disparity between the numbers of black players and black coaches.

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