Los Angeles (AFP) - The National Football League on Thursday confirmed it was looking into a possible breach of the sport's "Rooney Rule" following the signing of Jon Gruden as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Under NFL rules aimed at promoting diversity, teams are required to interview at least one minority candidate as part of an open process for head coaching jobs.
The Raiders' signing of Gruden has come under scrutiny after it emerged owner Mark Davis had reached an agreement with the former television analyst on December 24.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was fired a week later and Gruden was appointed on January 6, appearing to make it unlikely that any other candidate was interviewed.
The NFL confirmed on Thursday it was examining the circumstances surrounding Gruden's appointment, ESPN reported.
On Wednesday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organisation which works to promote equal opportunities for minorities in the NFL, issued a statement expressing concern over the Raiders' hire.
"We are deeply concerned by reports that the Oakland Raiders' owner, Mark Davis, came to an agreement with Jon Gruden about him becoming the Raiders' next head coach before interviewing any candidates of color," the organisation said in a statement.
"If so, the club violated the Rooney Rule ... as soon as we learned of the reports, we formally requested that the NFL thoroughly investigate the matter to conclusively determine whether the Rooney Rule was violated -- and if it was violated, to impose an appropriate punishment."
The NFL has sanctioned teams for Rooney Rule violations in the past, issuing a $200,000 fine against Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen in 2003 following the appointment of head coach Steve Mariucci.