On an all-staff call Wednesday afternoon, just hours after major shareholder Robert Sarver announced he was selling the Phoenix Suns, team president and CEO Jason Rowley answered the ball. questions from team employees about the future of the organization; whether there will be penalties for specific franchise leaders found guilty of years-long workplace misconduct; and when those allegations first surfaced, the team Will admit to specific allegations after publicly supporting Sarver, team sources told ESPN.
Rowley noted that Sam Garvin, a minority shareholder who was originally part of the ownership group that Sarver led to acquire the team in 2004, will remain with the team as the sales process begins. the interim governor, giving him control of all management decisions for the group, the sources said. Raleigh also said that under the terms of the NBA’s most recent one-year suspension, Sarver will not interact or connect with anyone in the organization, nor will he participate in games or visit the team’s training facilities or workplace.
Last week, Sarver was suspended for a year and fined $10 million after an NBA investigation found that Sarver used the N-word at least five times “in making statements about others.”
Sarver also engaged in “unfair conduct toward female employees,” including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments about an employee’s appearance, the NBA said in its statement.
Rowley told employees that it was important for the organization to “recognize some of the mistakes of the past,” and he apologized to any current or former employees who had an “unpleasant experience” there.
“Leadership starts at the top,” he added in part.
Rowley said Sarver’s impending absence provides “clarity” for the team, and questions about Sarver’s future role — the “elephant in the room” — are behind the team.
But Rowley also answered tough questions from staff previously submitted through Team Human Resources. The first question centered on whether there would be penalties for the organization’s leaders, who some staff felt were responsible for years of workplace misconduct.
Raleigh, who has been with the Suns since 2007-08, said there are a number of items in the NBA’s investigative report — without specifying — the team is investigating and will take “corrective action” as appropriate.
Raleigh answered a question about what the organization is doing to ensure there are more women, people of color and women of color in specific leadership positions. Raleigh cited the group’s recent efforts and said they had hired a “diversity, equity and inclusion leader” who would help further.
Rowley also responded to a question, said to have been submitted by several staff members, about why the group didn’t specifically address the allegations after quickly standing next to Sarver when they were first noticed.
Rowley cited an upcoming statement from the team, which was shared with staff ahead of its release to the public. He also mentioned that, as a member of the executive team, he discussed with them on Wednesday past incidents that were “inconsistent with our values” and that the team needed to take action to correct them.
The NBA commissioned an investigation after a November 2021 ESPN report detailed allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17 years as owner.
In that story, multiple current and former employees spoke to ESPN about the actions of other members of the Suns leadership team, which they believed led to a toxic and sometimes hostile work environment. While no one said Sarver was involved in these events, many believe Sarver’s own actions contributed to a culture that influenced the way some other managers in the organization treated their employees.
On Wednesday, multiple current and former employees called for some leaders to be held accountable.
A staff member involved in the investigation said: “I’m relieved, I’m very happy, I’m empowered and I’m motivated to continue to ensure that all those who maintain this culture in the organisation still in power are eradicated.”