CANTON, Ohio -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame is adding a contributor category for nomination next year.
The addition was announced Wednesday, after being approved by the Hall's bylaws for the selection committee. The new category has the potential of increasing the number of annual inductees to eight.
The proposal to add a contributor category was first raised Friday, a day before the 2014 seven-member class was inducted.
Hall of Fame president David Baker said there was a need to add the category to address what had become a backlog of qualified candidates, including commissioners, owners and general managers.
There currently are only 19 contributors enshrined, and only nine were inducted over the past 46 years.
Candidates for induction in the category will be defined as someone who has made "outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching."
Previously, contributors were included among the modern-era nomination list of players and coaches, which was limited to a maximum of five inductees. Another two spots are open to senior nominees, players whose careers ended at least 25 years ago.
"It is our belief that this modification will create a more level playing field," board of trustees chairman Randy Hunt said.
Under the plan, two contributors and one senior player will be eligible for induction next year, followed by one contributor and two seniors in 2016. The numbers would rotate over five years, and the process would be reassessed.
The contributor nominees will be selected by a subcommittee and presented for consideration to the 46 selectors.
All nominees would still require 80 percent approval for induction.