The NFL is taking over the investigation into the Washington Football Team’s workplace culture, the NFL Network first reported.
The league reportedly informed team owner Dan Snyder on Aug. 31 that it will be overseeing the existing investigation by prominent sports attorney Beth Wilkinson that began after 15 female members of the organization detailed allegations of harassment by male employees in a July 15 Washington Post story. Wilkinson and her team will still conduct the investigation, but instead report to NFL CommissionerRoger Goodell and the league, rather than Snyder.
While Snyder is not directly accused of misconduct in The Post’s report, he is said to have fostered a “hostile” work environment. A second story on Aug. 25 detailed additional inappropriate behavior within the organization, which included a video of lewd outtakes from a 2008 cheerleader photoshoot.
In response, Snyder said he was unaware of the allegations until the story, but takes “full responsibility” for the organization’s culture.
Snyder and his wife Tanya released a statement saying they suggested the move by Goodell and the league.
“Recently, The Washington Football Team launched an independent third-party investigation into allegations about our culture and incidents of harassment. In conversations with Commissioner Goodell, Tanya and I suggested that the NFL assume full oversight of the investigation so that the results are thorough, complete and trusted by the fans, the players, our employees and the public. I appreciate Commissioner Goodell agreeing to our suggestion and the entire Washington Football Team remains committed to fully cooperating with all aspects of the investigation.”
The investigation change comes as Snyder is reportedly being pressed to sell his majority stake in the team. Minority owners FedEx Corp. CEO Fred Smith, Black Diamond Capital chairman Robert Rothman and NVR Inc. board chairman Dwight Schar own approximately 40% of the team and have already hired an investment firm to sell their stakes. A source told The Wall Street Journal that their shares would be more valuable on the market if the entire team were for sale.
Snyder is also suing an online Indian media company for allegedly accepting payment in exchange for publishing defamatory rumors in articles in July that have since been taken down. In a later filing, Snyder suggested that one of the minority owners tried to leak the defamatory information.
Snyder, 55, paid $800 million to buy the team in May 1999. It was estimated to be worth $3.4 billion by Forbes last year.