TEMPE – Before he was Arizona State University’s vice president for university athletics, Ray Anderson helped make strides toward diversity in the NFL.
Anderson served as the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations for eight seasons and helped contribute to the creation of the Rooney Rule. The rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for executive and head-coaching positions.
Anderson, who is one of only 12 African-American athletic directors at a Division I school, has brought the spirit of the rule to ASU, making sure a diverse slate is included in every coaching search at the university.
“It’s not a mandate that you have to hire, but rather a strong, strong encouragement to at least take the time to listen and educate yourself and be open-minded to the fact that the world is a great place with a whole bunch of skillsets and all of them don’t necessarily have to look like you, the person doing the hiring,” Anderson said.
It is an effort that may become more formalized across college sports soon. The National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, National Consortium for Academics and Sports and The No Hate Zone have proposed the Eddie Robinson rule to the NCAA. Named for the legendary Grambling State football coach and similar to the Rooney Rule, it would require NCAA institutions to interview at least one minority candidate for all administrative and coaching positions.
“It will give race and minority candidates more exposure than they are getting right now. A lot of them are not getting considered and they’re qualified,” executive director of the National Association for Coaching Equity Merritt Norvell said.
Northern Arizona University Athletic Director Lisa Campos agrees.
“We know people hire people who look like them, not even consciously doing it, so now to have that opportunity, at the end of the day, they’re going to hire the best person for that position but this will of course open up opportunities for minorities and for women to at least get that opportunity,” Campos said.