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Pacific joins WCC in creating “Russell Rule” diversity hiring commitment

Aug 3, 2020

University of the Pacific is proud to join the West Coast Conference in the adoption of the first conference-wide diversity hiring commitment in Division I athletics.

The “Russell Rule,” named in honor of WCC and NBA legend Bill Russell, is the main part of a groundbreaking series of initiatives implemented under the “We are Committed to Change” platform.

It 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.

"I am proud of the WCC's commitment to diversity and inclusion among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators," said Janet Lucas, Pacific's director of athletics. “Diversity and inclusion are values that we encourage at Pacific and this initiative is an opportunity to apply those principles in support of positive and lasting change.”

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 said. “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.”

Pacific President Christopher Callahan praised Gloria Nevarez, the first Latinx Division I commissioner, for leading the groundbreaking initiative.

“Commissioner Nevarez is a national leader in advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion across intercollegiate athletics,” Callahan said. “University of the Pacific is honored to be part of this trailblazing initiative.”

Nevarez thanked Russell for his central role in the new policy. “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.”

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