For more than a year, the NFL has successfully concealed any specific information developed by attorney Beth Wilkinson during its 11-month investigation of Washington leaders and owner Daniel Snyder. Today, the NBA announced its findings regarding Investigation of the Phoenix Suns and its owner, Robert Sarver.
The investigation included information gathered from interviews with 320 people, including current and former employees of The Suns and Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA team that Sarver also owns. And unlike the NFL’s investigation of leaders and Snyder, the NBA’s investigation of the Suns and Sarver included some details.
The NBA investigation found that Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and association rules and policies,” and that “[t]His behavior included the use of insensitive ethnic language; unequal treatment of female employees; sexual statements and behavior; and the harsh treatment of employees that at times constituted bullying.” Specifically, “on at least five occasions during his tenure with Suns/Mercury, [Sarver] Repeat the N-word when telling others, “He engaged in demeaning and cruel treatment of employees, including yelling and swearing at them.”
The investigation also found cases of workplace misconduct attributable to employees other than Sarver, including “cases of racial insensitivity, abuse of female employees, inappropriate comments related to gender or sexual orientation, and disrespectful communications.” Furthermore, the investigation concluded that Suns’ HR function has been “historically ineffective and not a reliable resource for employees who have been subjected to acts of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.”
Sarver has been suspended for one year. It is a real comment. He cannot come in any capacity. He also cannot be involved in the business or basketball operations of The Sun or Mercury. The NBA personally fined Sarver $10 million.
In Snyder’s case, the team was fined $10 million. Not commented. Presumably, he agreed to step down from the day-to-day management of the team. It has not yet been reinstalled. Earlier this year, Washington Times She reported that Snyder has resumed his previous duties.
The NBA has released the information about Sarver without revealing the identity of any witnesses. In turn, the NFL justified strict secrecy regarding Snyder’s misconduct by claiming that any disclosure would violate any promise made by the League, or its claims, to keep everything related to the investigation confidential. As the NBA has shown, specific information about owner misconduct can be revealed without naming the names of those who cooperated.
When the NFL announced the results of the leaders review of the workplace, the statement does not contain information Regarding specific actions in which Snyder was involved.
It remains unclear why the NFL did not release any information about Snyder’s specific actions, or why a written report from Wilkinson was not requested. It was reported and confirmed that Wilkinson would have recommended that Snyder be forced to sell the team, if she had reduced her recommendations to writing.
If the facts on which this view was based emerge, public pressure on the league to force Snyder to sell the team could become enormous. And maybe the league should do what it apparently doesn’t want to do — fight Snyder for sale, given that he’s likely to get involved in a scorched-earth lawsuit. He would also likely find a way to share with the media anything he would likely know about the alleged misconduct of other owners (we’re not saying such information exists), who might find themselves in their own mess.