Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said Sunday he will sell the team he founded, a move that comes close on the heels of the team’s announcement that it was beginning an investigation into Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct. The fast decision caps a whirlwind 72 hours for the 81-year-old Richardson, the franchise’s owner since its first season in 1995. On Friday, the Panthers announced it had hired a law firm to investigate the team’s boss. Then Sunday, the league said it was taking over the investigation. Also Sunday, Sports Illustrated reported that at least four former Carolina employees have received financial settlements resulting from Richardson’s conduct. One of those incidents was for using a racial slur at a black team scout. Three involved sexual comments and conduct directed toward women. The Panthers said it cannot comment on the specific allegations because “this matter is under an ongoing legal review.” In Richardson’s statement Sunday, he did not address the allegations, either. He wrote about bringing a football franchise to Carolina and praised the team’s fans. “I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” he said. “I hope everyone in this organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on just one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl.” Richardson said he would not entertain inquiries or begin the sale process until after the season. He is the first owner of a major American sports franchise to face this type of scrutiny since the heightened spotlight on sexual harassment and workplace conduct in recent months. This is a particularly delicate issue for the league given how it has been assailed in recent years over women’s issues. The league says 45% of its fans are women, higher than other leagues, but this could be particularly sensitive for the NFL given some of the controversy around the NFL’s handling of certain cases in recent years.
Carolina Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson Will Sell Team After Misconduct Allegations
Wall Street Journal | Dec 18