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Goodell says lack of coaching diversity "not acceptable"

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to a question during his annual press conference ahead of the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans,
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to a question during his annual press conference ahead of the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans,

By Simon Evans

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The low level of diversity in recent coaching hires is "not acceptable," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday, adding the league would look at expanding its Rooney Rule to bring in more minority coaches.

The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and requires National Football League teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching or senior football operation jobs.

"We will take steps to ensure more diversity in our hiring practices," said Goodell at his pre-Super Bowl news conference. "The results this year were simply not acceptable."

While the Rooney Rule has been viewed as a success, concerns have been raised after all eight NFL head coaching vacancies at the end of the 2012 regular season were filled by white coaches.

"There was full appliance of the Rooney Rule, in fact there were a record number of interviews, but we didn't have the outcome that we want," Goodell said.

"The outcomes are to make sure that we have full diversity. It is very important to the success of the league to do that."

Only four of the NFL's 32 teams have a minority head coach - the lowest number since the Rooney Rule was implemented.

Advocates for African-American and other minority group coaches have called for the rule to be applied to coordinator and assistant coaching positions.

Goodell did not address that particularly issue directly but said change was on the agenda.

"The Rooney Rule has been very effective over the past decade but we have to look to see what the next generation of the Rooney Rule is. What is going to take us to another level? We are committed to finding that answer," he said.

"We want to have the best people in the best possible positions.

"How do we get to a Rooney Rule or an extension of the Rooney Rule that will allow us to do that?" he asked.

The NFL's four minority head coaches are Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Minnesota's Leslie Frazier, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis and Carolina's Ron Rivera.

Lovie Smith, whose Chicago Bears team finished with a 10-6 record last season, lost his job and has not yet found a new job.

Among the Super Bowl participants, the Baltimore Ravens have an African-American offensive coordinator in former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell.

(Reporting By Simon Evans, Editing by Gene Cherry)