Rooney Rule to apply to GM, other roles

The NFL announced on Monday that it has extended the Rooney Rule, which mandates interviews to minority candidates, to senior football operations positions.

Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, for whom the rule is named, and who is also chairman of the league's Workplace Diversity Committee, recommended the rules change.

Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly hinted at the league's spring meetings last month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that the Rooney Rule would be extended to general manager-level positions. The change received strong backing from NFL owners at the meeting.

To this point, the Rooney Rule was a policy that included only head coaches. The rule was established in 2003.

"The recommendation ... recognizes that this process has worked well in the context of head coaches and that clubs have deservedly received considerable positive recognition for their efforts in this respect," Goodell said in a statement released by the league.

The rule mandates clubs to interview at least one minority candidate as part of the process for a team's senior football operations position, "whether described as general manager, executive vice president of football operations, or otherwise."

The only exclusions to the rule are the same exceptions that currently exist for head coaches: "If the position is held or filled by the owner or a member of his family, or occasions where the club has a pre-existing contractual commitments filed with the league office to promote a current member of its staff."

"The [extension] makes common sense," said Atlanta owner Arthur Blank, a member of the Workplace Diversity Committee.

Although not required by the rules change, Goodell "strongly urged" teams to interview a broad and diverse slate of candidates for a wide range of football operations roles, "including scouting, player personnel, and contract and cap management positions."

"The more thorough the search, the more likely clubs are to find the right candidates, and to be able to groom future leaders from within their organizations," Goodell said in the league release.

There are currently five African-American senior club football operations executives.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.