The NBA suspended Robert Sarverowner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, for a year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found racist and sexist behavior in the workplace, officials said Tuesday.
For the next year, Sarver will be barred from all NBA and WNBA buildings, “including any office, arena or practice facility,” according to a league statement.
He will also not be permitted to participate in any NBA or WNBA event, represent the team in any capacity, become involved in team business or basketball operations, or play any role in league governance, the NBA said.
The NBA investigation was prompted by a November 4 ESPN story chronicling longstanding allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix basketball operation.
The NBA appointed a New York-based law firm, Watchell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, to conduct its investigation into Sarver, and investigators interviewed 320 people, including current and former team employees.
Sarver, team management and employees “have fully cooperated with the investigation process,” according to the NBA.
The investigation found that Sarver, who has been the franchise’s managing partner for 18 years, “on at least five occasions” repeated “the N-word while recounting the statements of others.”
He was also found to have “engaged in instances of unfair conduct towards a female employee, made numerous gender-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about female employees’ physical appearance and other women,” the NBA said.
The NBA executive also “engaged in degrading and harsh treatment of employees” that “constituted intimidation”, the league found.
A representative for the Suns could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
This is a developing story, please refresh here for updates.