PSC Working Paper Series

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Working Paper

Date of this Version



Madden, Janice Fanning and Matthew Ruther. 2010. "Has the NFL’s Rooney Rule Efforts “Leveled the Field” for African American Head Coach Candidates?" PSC Working Paper Series, PSC 10-05.


Madden (2004) and Madden and Ruther (2009) provide evidence that African American National Football League (NFL) head coaches significantly out-performed their white counterparts between 1990 and 2002. They conclude that this evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that African Americans had to be better coaches than whites in order to be hired as a head coach in the NFL. In 2002, the NFL promulgated the Rooney Rule requiring NFL teams to interview a minority candidate when appointing new head coaches, as well as other affirmative efforts. This paper analyzes whether the performance advantage of African American head coaches has been eliminated in the time since the Rooney Rule’s affirmative efforts have been in effect. The paper also examines racial differentials in performance in other NFL coaching positions that were less affected by Rooney Rule affirmative efforts, finding no similar time trends in performance differentials by race.


Affirmative action, African American, Coaching, Defensive coordinator, Discrimination, Football, Head coaches, Hiring disadvantage, NFL, Offensive coordinator, Performance advantages, Race, Racial differentials, Regression analysis, Rooney Rule, Sports



Date Posted: 15 July 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.