The West Coast Conference is introducing a significant diversity hiring initiative which will be known as “The Russell Rule,” named after NBA and WCC legend Bill Russell.
Moving forward, all WCC members will be required to “include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community” in the final pool of candidates for the following positions in each athletic department: athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach. In doing so, the WCC said it is the first conference to make such a commitment in Division I athletics.
The conference is partnering with Russell, who won two national titles at the University of San Francisco before winning 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, and Dr. Richard Lapchick, a human rights activist and founder of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
“It is my hope the West Coast Conference initiative will encourage other leagues and schools to make similar commitments,” Russell said in a conference 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. I’m proud to assist the WCC and Commissioner Nevarez by endorsing this most important initiative.”
WCC commissioner Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx commissioner in Division I, received unanimous approval from the league’s presidents to move forward with the Russell Rule, which will be part of the conference’s “We are Committed to Change” platform.
“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,” Nevarez said. “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.”
Each WCC school will be required to “submit a hiring report” to the WCC Presidents’ Council that includes “evidence of their efforts” to abide by the Russell Rule. Additionally, the conference will have an annual “racial and gender report card” known as the “Russell Report” for each of its schools.
“Each year, the WCC will publish the data on the race and gender demographics of all athletic directors, senior staff members, head coaches in all WCC sponsored sports and assistant coaches in men’s and women’s basketball for each institution as well as the conference office,” the conference said.
In addition to emphasizing including diverse candidates in its hiring practices, the WCC said it will hold antiracism educational seminars, have an annual pledge to facilitate voting education and registration for its athletes and expand its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to have representation at each school.
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