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West Coast Conference Implements “The Russell Rule”

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It is the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I sports.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The West Coast Conference announced today the adoption of the “Russell Rule,” a commitment to diversity hiring practices named after WCC and NBA star Bill Russell. It is the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I sports.

The Russell Rule is similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL. Each member of the WCC is required to include a person from a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for athletic director, senior administrator, head coach, and full-time assistant coach positions.

The WCC, which is currently led by Gloria Nevarez, the first latinx D-1 commissioner, is better off than most conferences in the first place. Of the 10 schools in the conference, four of the 10 men’s basketball coaches are Black. However, even that number is not enough representation, nor does it include athletic directors, administrators, of assistant coaches.

As Rob Dauster wrote earlier this year, during the 2017-18 season, 53.6 percent of D-1 men’s basketball players were Black, but only 29.2 percent of head coaches were Black. If you took out historically black colleges/universities, that number dropped to 24.1 percent.

The Pac-12, for example, has zero Black basketball head coaches for the first time since 1970.

To read more about the program, Myron Medcalf with ESPN has a great round-up.