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Originally published January 8, 2010 at 8:49 PM | Page modified January 9, 2010 at 3:56 PM

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Seahawks must interview minority candidate before Pete Carroll can be hired

Hiring of Pete Carroll as the Seahawks' president and coach appears imminent, but it won't happen until the team satisfies the Rooney Rule.

Seattle Times staff reporter

While Pete Carroll's appointment as Seahawks coach was being characterized as imminent Friday, it wasn't immediate.

Because while Carroll was the leading candidate to become Seattle's next coach, he can't be the only candidate, otherwise the Seahawks will face sanctions for violating league hiring protocols. An NFL franchise is required to interview at least one minority candidate before filling a head-coaching vacancy, according to the guidelines frequently referred to as the Rooney Rule.

To that end, Seattle requested permission to interview Leslie Frazier, the Vikings defensive coordinator, who is African-American. That request — which was made Friday morning — tipped off the rest of the league that Jim Mora was out as Seahawks coach.

Frazier initially turned down the request for an interview, according to a source. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday afternoon Frazier had changed his mind, and would interview, then there were indications Friday night an interview still wasn't certain to happen.

Seattle also contacted Ron Rivera, Chargers defensive coordinator, about an interview, according to ESPN.

John Wooten is the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors compliance with the Rooney Rule. He said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon that a team can't comply with the rule by simply requesting an interview with a minority candidate. The interview must actually be conducted.

Seattle was not subject to the Rooney Rule when it designated Mora as the coach in waiting in 2008. If a coach on staff has a promotion to head coach written into his contract, no further interviews are required.

Wooten also said Seattle indicated that its general manager and president positions would be split, which was not the case the previous five years when Tim Ruskell held both posts.

That information constitutes a hint of the direction Seattle appears headed with regard to Carroll, something confirmed by The Los Angeles Times report that Carroll and the Seahawks were close to an agreement that would make Carroll both coach and president.

This is only the latest time Carroll has flirted with a return to the NFL, where he coached from 1984 to 1999, serving as an assistant coach, then a defensive coordinator before his two head-coaching stints, first with the Jets and later the Patriots, where he worked three seasons before being fired after the 1999 season.

Carroll played footsie with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, a job that went to Cam Cameron. In 2008, he talked to both Washington and Atlanta.

The fact Carroll now appears poised to make the jump points to the fact that he will have a strong — and likely final — voice over the roster.

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Carroll's prospects in Seattle have progressed to the point he has reached out to DeWayne Walker — former UCLA defensive coordinator and current New Mexico State coach — about becoming part of the staff, according to a source.

Seattle likely would still have to hire a general manager, a position that must also comply with the Rooney Rule. The position of team president does not because that position encompasses more than day-to-day football operations.

Wooten confirmed the Seahawks have said they will talk to Marc Ross, the New York Giants director of college scouting. Ross is African-American. Wooten said Seattle indicated a second minority candidate it would interview, though he would not specify who that was.

So while Carroll's arrival in Seattle appears imminent, it won't be immediate because the Seahawks have a number of league requirements to satisfy.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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