Symposium Examines the Efficacy and Legacy of the NFL’s Rooney Rule
Web Editor - Published: April 7, 2011
“It has the potential to increase opportunity in all sorts of realms,” said Temple University Beasley School of Law Professor N. Jeremi Duru of “the power of sport to impact society,” as he spoke at the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race’s 2nd annual symposium, “Legal and Diversity Issues in Coaching Professional Sports.”

Duru, who recently authored Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL (Oxford University Press, 2011), spoke in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom to students, faculty, and staff on both campuses, with the event being broadcast to the Harrisburg campus.

Following a welcome from Dean Linda L. Ammons and an introduction from Michelle Sanginiti, the Delaware Editor-in-Chief of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race, Duru spoke about a meeting with former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy that led him to write the book. He then discussed the origins of the NFL’s 2003 Rooney Rule, which requires NFL member teams to interview at least one minority candidate when conducting searches for a new head coach. He touched on the rules early failures and successes, including the hiring of Marvin Lewis by the Cincinnati Bengals and the large fine levied against the Detroit Lions for failing to comply with the rule when they hired Steve Mariucci in 2003.

Professor Duru also touched on how the Rooney Rule can serve as a model to opening up search processes for candidates in other field as well, and he contend, “The influnence of this goes beyond race,” as he suggested that similar ideas could be applied to gender as well.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Duru opened the floor to questions from the audience. Asked whether the Rooney Rule applies only to African American candidates, Professor Duru clarified that it covers anyone defined as a minority. He also answered questions about what arguments are used to attack the Rooney Rule and the potential exploitation of young African American athletes by colleges and universities.

Visiting Associate Professor Andre Smith then spoke briefly about the important niche in legal research that the Widener Journal of Law Economics & Race can claim. He emphasized the important intersections between economics, race, and the law, and said, “We do in fact have to take race into account.”

A graduated of Brown University, N. Jeremi Duru earned his J.D. and his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Following graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He then worked with the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. and later Mehri & Skalet PLLC.

In 2005, he received the National Bar Association’s Entertainment and Sports Lawyer of the Year award, and in 2008, he received the George P. Williams Memorial Award for the Outstanding Professor of the Year at Temple Law School. He teaches in the areas of sports law, employment discrimination, and civil procedure. He serves as a guest legal analyst and commentator for Yahoo! Sports new online magazine, The Post Game.

An online journal, the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race was founded in 2008 as a joint effort between the Delaware and Harrisburg campuses. The journal provides a forum for in-depth analysis and academic discourse on issues involving the intersection of the law, race, and economics. Students in learning more should visit the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race’s website.