Buffalo Bills Hire First Full-Time Woman Coach In NFL History

Kathryn Smith will serve as a special teams assistant coach.

The Buffalo Bills will hire the first full-time female assistant coach in NFL history, the team announced Wednesday night.

Kathryn Smith, who served as the administrative assistant to Bills head coach Rex Ryan during the 2015 season, will take over as the team's special teams quality control coach.

Smith has spent seven years working alongside Ryan, who was the head coach of the New York Jets from 2009 to 2014. She had previously served in other roles for the Jets as well.

"Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years she has worked with our staff," Ryan said in a statement released by the Bills that confirmed previous reports. "She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her qualities."

Smith has "assisted the assistant coaches for years" while working under Ryan, the statement said.

The Arizona Cardinals made history before the 2015 season when they hired Jen Welter as an assistant coaching intern for the preseason. No other woman had served in such a high-ranking coaching role in the NFL before her.

Ryan said in the statement that he had consulted with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians before promoting Smith, "since he was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move."

Women have made strides in numerous professional sports roles in recent years, including the coaching ranks. The San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon as an assistant coach before the 2014-2015 season, making her the first woman assistant in the NBA. Hammon served as the head coach of the Spurs' summer league team during the offseason.

In September, the Oakland A's hired Justine Siegal as a guest instructor for a postseason fall league, making her the first woman to serve in a coaching role for an MLB club.

In the NFL, Sarah Thomas became the league's first full-time female official during the 2015 season.