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WCC Creates ‘Bill Russell Rule’ For Commitment To Diversity Hiring

WCC and NBA legend along with social justice advocate Bill Russell is now the namesake of the West Coast Conference's new "Russell Rule." (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SAN BRUNO, California – One of the greatest players in West Coast Conference history, former San Franciso and Boston Celtics star Bill Russell is now the namesake for a historic diversity hiring commitment in the WCC.

The “Russell Rule” was announced on Monday by the league and it’s the first Division 1 conference in the NCAA to implement a groundbreaking opportunity for members of underrepresented communities.

This is similar to what the NFL has in place for the “Rooney Rule” where teams are required to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching positions and senior football operation jobs. WCC schools are now required to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for leadership positions.

Bill Russell, who has been a life-long advocate for social justice, wrote on social media, “It’s my sincere honor to represent the West Coast Conference as a pioneer in adopting this groundbreaking commitment. The Russell Rule provides equitable opportunities for mentors of our student-athletes. I hope the @WCCsports initiative encourages others to follow its lead.”

BYU, a full-time member of the WCC, will see this rule implemented in programs that compete in the West Coast Conference. Football is not included in the “Russell Rule” as it operates as an FBS Independent. Same with Men’s Volleyball which is a member of the MPSF.

WCC Commissioner Gloria Nevarez, who is the first Latinx Division I Commissioner in the NCAA has been a leader in implementing the WCC’s “We are Committed to Change” platform.

“The Russell Rule is the result of the groundbreaking work of the WCC Presidents’ Council and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” Nevarez said in a press release. “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. 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.”

Along with The “Russell Rule” the WCC’s “We are Committed to Change” initiatives include education, policymaking, civic engagement, video campaign, and observing the Juneteenth holiday.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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