NFL fines ex-Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $2.75M after workplace misconduct probe

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Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was fined $2.75 million by the NFL. USATSI

The NFL quickened the pace of the workplace investigation into the Carolina Panthers and former owner Jerry Richardson once the longtime Panthers owner sold the team to David Tepper, and the league has released its findings in that investigation.

According to Commissioner Roger Goodell and special investigator Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair, Richardson absolutely engaged in inappropriate behavior and as a result, the commissioner fined the former Panthers owner $2.75 million.

That money will be used to "support organizations addressing race and gender-based issues and fund league-wide workplace training."

Specifically the league has made initial commitments to Beauty for Ashes Ministry, Black Women's Blueprint and Women of Color Network. 

White's findings found that all of the claims against Richardson were substantiated and that Richardson was the the only employee of the Panthers engaging in this inappropriate conduct. According to a Sports Illustrated report, Richardson's misconduct included sexual harassment and use of a racial slur. Additionally, no one reported the claims until they were made public back in December of 2017. 

Here are the full findings from White's report:

First, the review identified each of the allegations that has been publicly reported as well as similar matters that have not been the subject of public discussion. 

Second, while the investigation was not limited to the matters that have been publicly reported, and did not seek to confirm or reject the details of each specific allegation made regarding Mr. Richardson, it did substantiate the claims that have been made, and identified no information that would either discredit the claims made or that would undermine the veracity of the employees who have made those claims.

Third, the improper conduct was limited to Mr. Richardson. No other employee of the Panthers is alleged to have engaged in such conduct, and the review did not discover evidence of similar conduct by other employees of the club. 

Fourth, the investigation also confirmed that the Panthers and its ownership did not report the claims, or any agreements to resolve those claims, to the League Office and that neither the League Office nor the club's limited partners were aware of these matters until they became public in December of 2017.

To put the amount Richardson was fined in context, the NBA once banned Donald Sterling for life after hearing racist comments on a recording, and also fined him $2.5 million. Though it's not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, the NFL fining Richardson more speaks volumes about what the league's investigation found. 

It is also worth noting that Richardson has more than enough money to pay the fine. He sold the Panthers to Tepper for a record $2.2 billion earlier this offseason, raking in a large amount of cash for a franchise he founded back in the 1990s. 

Rumors of the Panthers generating a $2.5 billion sale price percolated for months leading up to the sale after the investigation began into current/soon-to-be-former owner Jerry Richardson's misconduct in the workplace. Shortly after the NFL took over the investigation into Richardson's behavior, the Panthers owner announced his intention to sell.

The league dodged a major bullet here, with the investigation wrapping up after the sale happened rather than while Richardson was still the owner of record for the team. Having a sitting owner deal with these allegations and findings would be a major issue for the NFL.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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