NFL committee to ask Lions about coaching search
February 14, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL's diversity committee plans to ask the Detroit Lions about their hiring of coach Steve Mariucci and whether they adequately considered minority candidates.
After the Lions hired Mariucci this month, committee chairman and Pittsburgh Steelers president Dan Rooney said the club's process ``fell short'' of committee guidelines.
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran Jr. criticized the Lions for not seriously interviewing at least one minority candidate.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday that the diversity committee will meet the first week of March in Palm Beach, Fla., as part of a series of scheduled league committee meetings. He declined to comment further.
Lions spokesman Craig Vandermuse confirmed Friday that the NFL is investigating whether Detroit complied with its guidelines on interviewing minority group members. Lions president Matt Millen plans to meet with NFL officials to discuss the hiring, Vandermuse said.
Vandermuse said five minority candidates turned down interview requests from the Lions because it appeared inevitable that Mariucci would be hired. He said the team had no further comment on the matter at this time.
The league's committee on workplace diversity drafted the hiring policy in December. The league hasn't said what the punishment might be for a team that fails to adhere to the new guidelines.