One week after Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million for alleged racist remarks, the team’s president is taking an indefinite leave of absence “effective immediately,” according to the NBA.
Andy Roeser had worked for Sterling for over 30 years before NBA commissioner Adam Silver handed down the lifetime ban on April 29, just four days after audio recordings of him talking with girlfriend V. Stiviano were released on TMZ.
According to ESPN, Roeser had met with investigator David Anders after Sterling had confirmed that it was his voice on the tapes. Roeser hired an outside consultant to draft a statement of response from the team in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, which drew criticism from many for giving Sterling the benefit of the doubt.
Roeser has been the team’s president since 1986. Before joining the Clippers in 1984, he worked for accounting firm Ernst & Young.
“This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances,” said NBA spokesperson Mike Bass in a statement.
The Clippers, worth an estimated $575 million according to a Forbes ranking in January, have drawn numerous potential suitors if a sale is forced by the NBA.
Last week, Oprah Winfrey confirmed that she was in talks with music mogul David Geffen and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison to try to purchase the team if it became available. (At the White House Correspondents’ dinner, President Obama even joked about an Oprah-led Clippers organization while making a dig at Sterling.)
Despite the ongoing changes in management, the Clippers have found success on the court, advancing to the Western Conference semifinals with a game seven victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday and beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-105 on Monday night in game one of the second-round series. Game two is on Wednesday night.