Division I Schools Must Implement New West Coast Conference Diversity Hiring Policy

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Official logo of the NCAA
Official logo of the NCAA

On Monday, the West Coast Conference (WCC) announced a new policy that requires NCAA Division I schools to include an underrepresented candidate for job openings in athletics.

The diversity hiring commitment, named the “Russell Rule,” will require each WCC institution to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach, and full-time assistant coach position in the athletic department. 

The Russell Rule is named after basketball legend Bill Russell, 11-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion, and a Presidential Medal of Honor recipient. 

“It is my hope the West Coast Conference initiative will encourage other leagues and schools to make similar commitments,” Russell stated in a press release. “We need to be intentional if we’re going to make real change for people of color in leadership positions in college athletics.”

The Russell Rule is the first conference-wide diversity and hiring effort in Division I and is one of the first rollouts of a series of WCC diversity strategies under WCC’s “We are Committed to Change” initiative. 

The WCC has partnered with The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) to create an annual racial and gender report card named the “Russell Report” for each member institution and the Conference office. Since 1988, TIDES has independently conducted report cards on major sports organizations. Going forward, institutions must submit an annual hiring report to the WCC Presidents’ Council including evidence of their efforts to comply with the policy. In turn, the WCC will publish the data annually. 

“The Russell Rule is the result of the groundbreaking work of the WCC Presidents’ Council and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx Division I Commissioner, said in a statement. “Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player and social justice advocate the nation has seen. He is a champion for change. It is our belief the WCC ‘Russell Rule’ will live up to his legacy. Our goal is that the diversity of our student-athletes is reflected in those that lead and mentor them and provides a holistic and inclusive education during their time at WCC institutions.”