SAN BRUNO, Calif. — The West Coast Conference is proud to announce the adoption of the “Russell Rule” as the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I. The “Russell Rule” is named in honor of WCC and NBA legend Bill Russell and is the main part of a groundbreaking series of initiatives implemented under the “We are Committed to Change” platform.
The “Russell Rule” requires each member institution to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach position in the athletic department.
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The WCC has partnered with human rights activist and pioneer for racial equality, Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), to develop an annual race and gender report card on the demographics at each WCC institution and the Conference office.
Russell, an 11-time NBA Champion, a two-time NCAA Champion and a Presidential Medal of Honor recipient as a life-long advocate for social justice, embraced the opportunity to promote equitable opportunities in college athletics.
“It is my hope the West Coast Conference initiative will encourage other leagues and schools to make similar commitments,” Russell stated. “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.”
Led by Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx Division I Commissioner, the WCC continues to be a trailblazer for change.
“The Russell Rule is the result of the groundbreaking work of the WCC Presidents’ Council and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” Nevarez said. “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.
“We look forward to working with the WCC to enhance transparency to their diversity and inclusion efforts and to assist them as they become a role model for institutions and conferences everywhere,” Dr. Lapchick commented. “I am very appreciative of the leadership of Commissioner Gloria Nevarez, who got the approval of the Conference presidents to undertake the first conference-wide Racial and Gender Report Card.”
The “Russell Rule” is part of several significant initiatives associated with the “We are Committed to Change” platform that received unanimous support from the WCC Presidents’ Council.
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“The West Coast Conference is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive environment that ensures equality and respect for everyone,” commented University of San Diego President James T. Harris, the chair of the WCC Presidents’ Council. “The WCC is a leader in establishing a diversity hiring commitment that speaks to the Conference’s core values of inclusion. The Conference has been committed to this work for many years, including the hiring of our Commissioner Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx to lead a NCAA Division I athletic conference. Thanks to her leadership and the great work of the WCC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Presidents’ Council unanimously approved this groundbreaking new initiative.”
Led by Nevarez, the WCC is committed to providing an inclusive environment and developing initiatives that combat racism and social injustice. The “We are Committed to Change” platform will continue to guide conversations and actions in pursuance of equity, diversity and inclusion in the WCC.