NEW YORK — For the first time in league history, NFL teams will be able to conduct head coaching interviews with coaches on other teams beginning in Week 17 of the regular season, provided that coach gets consent from his current team.

The change is one of several approved by league owners during their fall meeting in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday. Teams were notified of the change in rules in a Wednesday memo obtained by CBS Sports.

It's one of several changes to rules regarding hiring practices for all coaches and general managers, with many of the changes focusing on the league strengthening diversity among its head coach and GM ranks.

Teams can interview a candidate for its head coach position in the final two weeks of the regular season, with consent of the candidate's employer, provided the head coach who started the season in that role is no longer in that role, or if that head coach has been told he won't be retained following the end of the season.

Once a team consents to allowing a candidate to interview for one head-coaching role, they cannot block that candidate from interviewing from any other head coaching role prior to the end of the regular season.

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And still, candidates who are not currently employed by a team can interview with no restrictions.

Back in May, NFL team owners tabled a proposal by the Bills that would delay head coaching interviews until after the conference championship games had been played and would prohibit hires from taking place until after the Super Bowl. Team owners essentially didn't want to have to wait to install a franchise leader.

"I would say we've known for years there's been conversations about timing and the ability of a coach to be able to interview for positions," Jonathan Beane, NFL Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, told CBS Sports by phone Wednesday evening. "And we also know that historically there have been some who have been frustrated in the fact that their team has been very successful and as a result they didn't necessarily have the opportunity to interview when they wanted to.

"And sometimes all the positions might be filled by the time they finish the season. This just allows everyone to start at the same time and where, before the playoffs, everyone's in the same place. And we're hoping that this kind of solves that in a way where everyone feels they have a fair shot in terms of the access that they have to interview for a role."

This rule change is for head coaching positions only and does not apply to general manager candidates.

"With head coaches, if you actually look at the hiring cycle, a lot of decisions are made with head coaches quite early. And the coaches get snapped up in a very quick time period," Beane says. "We just felt with a general manager, that really, in the conversations we had, there wasn't a groundswell of concern from general manager candidates around the timing of hiring. Most of the concern and feedback that we had received — in terms of the clubs and also the candidates — was there was a major timing issue with coaches."

We'll have more on the other changes made to the league's hiring practices coming soon.